The SimCity launch was rocky, performance has improved, your mileage may vary

The SimCity launch was rocky, performance has improved, your mileage may vary

When a game requires a constant Internet connection to play, the fears of long queues and frequent disconnections can spread quickly. We played our early copy of SimCityunder optimal conditions, and thus we could not properly assess how well the servers would handle the stress at launch. Well, launch day has arrived. Here's what happened, in the Central Time Zone:

The timeline

11:00 PM

SimCity unlocks, and is available to download. I pop open Origin, type in my login, and head to the My Games tab. Greeted with the message: “We're sorry, your game library could not be loaded.” I restart Origin, several times. No dice. I'll come back later.

11:30 PM

Open Origin, enter login information, click My Games. There it is! I mouseover and click “download.” The bar begins to animate, but soon stops. Another pop-up. “We're sorry, an error occurred while trying to download your game. Please try again later.” I attempt to start the download again. Nope. I close out of Origin and log back in, and try again. Still no. Time for the waiting game.

11:50 PM

Click download. The bar begins to animate. Preparing download… Hey, there it goes. And fairly fast, too. It hits 100% just before midnight. I click “play.” The SimCity launcher opens, and begins the update and install processes. Oh, right. Internet game. Can't click “play” and go. The bar is moving pretty slowly. I'll come back later.

12:30 AM

The progress bar is at 15%. Or is that 16%? Maybe 18%? Vision blurring. Getting sleepy. I blink slowly, watching, waiting. Blip. Oh, it was 15% after all. I want to see if I can play before I go to sleep. I just bought a Warmachine figure over the weekend, maybe I could assemble that?

1:00 AM

My fingers are hard and crusted with super glue. There's a tiny indent where the pointed edge of the figure has been poking me while I held it together. I look over to the update screen. It's moved! It's now at 25%. The math is easy to figure out: I'm going to be up until 4:00 AM if I wait for this to finish. I glance at the door, remembering I have a flight to pack for. My head feels heavy, and my eyes involuntarily close. I get up from my chair and head to bed. “I'm sorry,” I think. “I've failed you.”

8:00 AM

Rise and shine. No time to brush my teeth, comb my hair, or stop smelling like a farm animal, SimCity is almost surely downloaded by now. I head to my work area and look: Yes, it's loaded. I hit the button that relaunches the SimCity launcher. It reloads, and the same button now becomes a play symbol. I click it.

“Welcome, Sophie!” The game is up. It's loaded. I click “Join Game,” since I figure that makes the most sense if we're testing for how well people will be able to play with each other. I choose a region with three other players, and claim a city. I start constructing residential areas, a shopping district, and designate a far-off corner of the map the land of sewage. I never experience slowdown or disconnection. I zoom out and go visit my new neighbors. Holy crap that guy's city looks nice.

I play for a couple more hours, never getting booted, never waiting in a queue. My neighbors have even helped my city's progression; thanks to a Department of Finance in the region, I can take out much larger bonds. I expand rapidly. The city of Sophieville shall thrive.

The complaints

I didn't have any issues with playing SimCity once it loaded. I joined games already in progress, I interacted with other players, I created my own, public region for other player to join me, all without problem. I switched from hardline connection to WiFi, and again experienced nothing detrimental to my game experience.

But I'm not the only one playing this game, and not everyone's having such a good time. TotalBiscuit posted a PSA on YouTube about his lengthy wait times and cautioned potential buyers about buying the game right away:Polygon spoke with Marcel Hatam, Origin's global community manager, who apologized for the issues people were having with the title. One of the major contributors – and, as you can see from the timeline, a problem I encountered – was that SimCity could not be pre-loaded onto your machine.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun was also displeased, reminiscing on the good ol' days: “Remember how SimCity 2000 was this game you could play on your laptop, or PC, anywhere, any time? Remember how you could just enjoy huge amounts of time with what is surely one of the best games ever made whenever and however you wanted?” John Walker wrote. “Not anymore!”

Many sites are saying that Origin forums are “flooded” with complaints, and although there certainly are a good number of such threads, they aren't overwhelming. Maybe these threads were closed. Maybe they were deleted. People are certainly angry, as they have every right to be, but things have, for the most part, calmed down over the past several hours.

Could you play SimCity at launch? No, it would seem not. Even the Origin Twitter account was handing out updates regarding server status and troubles distributing the game late last night. Can you play SimCity now? I haven't had any trouble, nor has Polygon Features Editor Russ Pitts.

Just remember: your mileage may vary.