The launch of SimCity in 2013 has become one of gaming’s most infamous online cock-ups.
The Maxis title arrived alongside a huge amount of hype, but the decision to require that even single player users log onto EA’s systems to access their game led to millions being unable to play the game.
Maxis’ arguments that the game would not be possible offline turned frustration into anger – anger that was proved founded when the game was freed from its online shackles the following year.
"EA wanted to make it more of a platform, an ongoing platform, that they’d sort of build and develop on. And so that mandated, kind of, the server and online stuff. Which, in retrospect – I mean, obviously – was the fatal flaw.
"The tech got ahead of itself. We didn’t have the back-end infrastructure to actually pull that off, obviously. The back end of it all, sort of, collapsing in flaming server rooms [felt] a little bit like being somebody on a sinking ship, and you’ve done a really nice job on your part of it, but it doesn’t matter… if you’ve made all these beautiful things, because the rest of the ship is exploding."
Quigley added that while microtransactions were part of EA’s online vision, they were not the defining factor. It’s undoubtedly true, however, that the work required to manage the disaster prevented Maxis from adding to the game as it had planned. The studio had, for instance, planned to expand upon the available space in which gamers could build their cities. This limitation was another huge criticism the title had to endure and was, like everything else, scuppered by server constraints.