The always-on internet requirement of Maxis’ SimCity was never designed as a DRM measure, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has claimed.
"DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it’s not a viable strategy for the gaming business,” the exec told GamesIndustry. So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that’s what we sought to achieve.
For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that’s not the case at all. That’s not the reality; I was involved in all the meetings. DRM was never even brought up once.
You don’t build an MMO because you’re thinking of DRM – you’re building a massively multiplayer experience, that’s what you’re building. At no point in time did anybody say ‘you must make this online’. It was the creative people on the team that thought it was best to create a multiplayer collaborative experience."
But what of the seemingly fierce reaction that followed the game’s release? Was it indeed the consumer furore that we were led to believe or was it instead the loud complaints of a few disgruntled members of the media?
"Some customers have had problems, and you’re in the media; you know how some things can snowball, and unfortunately that’s what happened here,” Gibeau added.
We did the best we could in order to respond to that and made adjustments to the service but the game is continuing to sell through at a much higher expectation than we thought. The servers are now at 100 per cent and there’s plenty of capacity.
And we’re not the first or the last company – Activision Blizzard, Steam, Ubisoft… everybody’s had this problem and it was our turn I guess.”