In the unfortunate event you’ve been living under a rock for the past week let’s get you up to speed. EA/Maxis released the newest installation of SimCity last week and almost instantly it was plagued with issues. The servers were overloaded and there was a queue to get in to play the game (even if you just wanted to play single player). This is because EA decided to implement a “DRM” of sorts by requiring the game to offload some of it’s city-wide calculations to their servers to perform. This from a business point of view means that if you didn’t buy the game and pirated it instead, wouldn’t be authenticated and thus wouldn’t be able to play it. Instead in practice it meant waiting for hours to play a single player game and EA responded by removing features of the game to reduce the load on their servers so people could play. It got so bad that Amazon quit selling the game and EA issues a press release to retailers to stop actively promoting their game so they could catch up. Polygon reviewed the game and before it released had given it a 9.5 but after the issues with the servers decided to bump it down to 8.5 and later even updated it to a 4 out of 10.
Other issues present are that you can build a city entirely out of residential zones and the game doesn’t find any issues with that and population will boom despite there being no factories, no businesses, nothing for the sims to do other than drive around and cause traffic – which they will due to their poor AI. Then there’s the population numbers. The numbers are “fudged” so to speak – if it says you’ve got 100,000 citizens, you most likely only have about 1,000. It’s even called on as “simcity.GetFudgedPopulation()” in the source code of the game. It’s been about a week and already people have found solutions to being able to disconnect from the EA servers and play the game offline – which is a step in the right direction. This means that years down the road after EA has shut down their servers so you’ll have to buy SimCity 2017, you’ll still be able to fire up your old copy and play a game.
It’s not all absolute horror stories though as Carrier in our forums is having loads of fun playing it and says that while the servers were flaky, the queues didn’t last long at first and hasn’t been experiencing them lately. My recommendation would be finding a friend who has the game and playing it on their PC before deciding to make the purchase or not.