Will Wright, the celebrated creator of the SimCity series, has labelled the recent launch of the latest SimCity game "inexcusable".
When the always-online SimCity came out earlier this year the flood of players crippled Maxis' servers, rendering it unplayable. After weeks of controversy and criticism over this so-called DRM strategy, publisher EA and developer Maxis offered gamers a free EA game by way of an apology.
Now, Wright, who created the first SimCity game over 20 years ago, has criticised the launch. "I feel bad for the team," Wright told GamesIndustry International.
"I could have predicted - I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff. It's a good game; I enjoy playing it a lot. It was kind of like, 'EA is the evil empire,' there was a lot of, 'Let's bash EA over it.'
"That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same."
Much of the concern about SimCity ahead of its release revolved around the fact you wouldn't be able to play it while travelling, on a longhaul flight, for example, because of its always-online requirement.
After the launch, Maxis said it should have better communicated the fact that SimCity is, in the developer's eyes, an MMO, and Wright highlighted the problem of perception the game has endured.
"I think people care if it doesn't work," he said. "If you can't play it on planes, stuff like that... I think there are some very valid concerns about it. Also there's a perception; I don't expect to play World of Warcraft on the aeroplane, because my perception is it has to be on the 'net.
"SimCity was in this very uncomfortable space, like the uncanny valley, almost; [it was caught] between, was it a single-player game or was it a multiplayer game?"
Wright's comments came as Maxis confirmed that SimCity's update 3 will be released this week. It aims to improve a number of features, but the focus is squarely on the game's traffic simulation, which has been panned by players.
The updated routing system now understands more information about u-turns, required vehicle stops and vehicle behaviour on certain road types, Maxis revealed. "This should make traffic smarter," read the patch notes.
Other tweaks aim to reduce traffic. The widely publicised issue of cars refusing to move, thus causing traffic to back up, should be fixed by the update.
Meanwhile, the air pollution bug, which affected players after the update 2 was released, should be fixed. Trees will now last longer, but also do not eliminate as much ground pollution.
There's no mention of an offline mode, however, long called for by fans following SimCity's disastrous launch. Nor is there mention of expanding the city sizes. But the Global Market did experience a few days of testing on the test server last week, and will again be tested soon. Fingers crossed this much-needed feature will be made live for everyone sooner rather than later.