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SimCity suffering severe launch woes

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A twister wreaks havoc in SimCity (Credit: EA)

Want to play the new SimCity? We can’t blame you -- it looks terrific. But good luck getting it working.

In what’s becoming a familiar tune to early players of eagerly-anticipated titles that require an Internet connection, the game's servers were completely overwhelmed when it launched Tuesday, preventing users from playing and angering the long-running franchise's legions of fans.

Because SimCity needs to be connected to EA’s servers to run at all, users are having serious issues getting it working even if they own a physical copy of the game. Reports of 30-minute waits to join servers just to play solo are not uncommon.

Things are slowly starting to get better -- as they typically do with these sorts of launches -- but that's not keeping critics from skewering EA for failing to be prepared for the crush.

"It’s tempting to simply say that one should wait at least two days before trying to purchase and play a game that requires an always-on Internet connection, a move that would give the publisher time to manage server load and get everything running," said Ben Kuchera of the Penny Arcade Report. "That’s a rational move but, dammit, we shouldn’t have to wait to play games we want to buy now."

Twitter and Facebook have been overrun with fans complaining about the game’s launch woes, something the SimCity team tried to quell as it kept users updated on the server status. (Two additional servers and a server patch have since been added.) What was curious, though, was EA's initial downplaying of the problem.

"Due to the high demand for SimCity, [EA digital service] Origin has experienced delays impacting a small percentage of users. We’re working non-stop to resolve," the company's Origin division Tweeted.

Designer Guillaume Pierre tried to spin the frustration with some humor, saying "Reports of goats taking over the @OriginInsider servers are true."

At least one group of players wasn't affected by the server woes. The game doesn't launch outside of the U.S. until later this week, and this time EA promises it will be prepared for the onslaught of users.

"We are … making changes to prevent further issues, and we're confident that the Origin service will be stable for our International SimCity launches later this week," the company said.

SimCity's hardly alone in its launch troubles. Last year, the immensely popular Diablo III launched in multiple territories, which caused the Battle.net servers (required to authenticate the game before owners can play it) to buckle. That resulted in a dreaded "Error 37" message – forcing players to log in again, a stalling tactic to make the queue more orderly. The company had similar problems with World of Warcraft during its launch, as too many people tried to play at once.

The new SimCity is a reboot of the 1989 classic. The original game spawned several successful sequels as well as the spin-off series The Sims, which is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time with over 150 million units sold.

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