Some might expect the main lesson to be learnt from the launch of SimCity was the perils of including always-on DRM in your product.
But that’s not the answer Maxis GM Lucy Bradshaw gave CVG when asked that very question.
“Never underestimate the power of your fans,” she replied. “All of the sales data, charts and graphs can't tell you the entire story. Test your game in the real world as much as possible because your players will challenge your game in ways that you never thought possible.”
The SimCity DRM debate shows no sign of abating, despite Maxis’ ongoing silence. A fresh video on YouTube seems to show the successful editing of a city (both within and beyond enforced city boundaries) while offline, only for the game to re-sync with Origin’s servers with no negative effects.
That shouldn't be possible if Maxis' previous claims were true.
And while Maxis was vocal for a short period after launch, it remains ominously silent about the evidence presented that counters its argument that the online nature of the game mean that patching out the DRM would be a huge challenge..
Bradshaw insists that she is satisfied, however, with the steps taken by both her studio and EA.
“Maxis performs at its best when it is challenged, and this is the most challenging situation that any of us have ever faced,” she said.
“Since we launched it's been all hands on deck and everyone has been pitching in. We're getting phone calls from people across EA asking how they can contribute and we were more than happy to take some of them up on their offer. I'm happy that we've been getting so much encouragement and support from across the company. It's been great for team morale and it's motivating us to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.”
CVG raises another thorny issue, too – EA is not shy of deactivating an older game’s servers. Who’s to say that SimCity’s switch won’t be prematurely switched off?
“SimCity is an important part of our company's legacy and we want players to be able to continue their experiences well down the line from now,” she added. “As far as I am concerned, the servers will stay on as long as there are people playing.”