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SimCity launch debacle: EA admits it was "dumb", says sorry with a free game

"We're hoping you won't stay mad..."

EA will give a free game to those affected by the catastrophic SimCity launch, it has announced.

In a blog post published late last night Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of the Maxis Label, admitted EA had been "dumb" to have allowed the servers to collapse under the weight of expectant players when the game launched in the US on Tuesday.

But she insisted the connectivity issues had improved as EA added more capacity to its servers, which power the controversial always-online city-building simulation.

"The server issues which began at launch have improved significantly as we added more capacity," she said. "But some people are still experiencing response and stability problems that we're working fast to address.

"So what went wrong?  The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

"OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 per cent. It's working - the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 per cent.

"So we're close to fixed, but not quite there. I'm hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us."

Eurogamer staff were able to play the game - with reduced connectivity features - last night after an obligatory 18 minute wait to access the servers.

Bradshaw said SimCity is a "solid hit" in all major markets, before addressing fluctuating review scores fuelled by the launch debacle.

"The consensus among critics and players is that this is fundamentally a great game," she said. "But this SimCity is made to be played online, and if you can't get a stable connection, you're NOT having a good experience. So we're not going to rest until we've fixed the remaining server issues."

Then, the offer of a free game: "And to get us back in your good graces, we're going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio. On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.

"I know that's a little contrived - kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We're hoping you won't stay mad and that we'll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 per cent.

"SimCity is a GREAT game and the people who made it are incredibly proud.  Hang in there - we'll be providing more updates throughout the weekend."

EA has endured perhaps one of the most difficult weeks in its history after the launch of SimCity, which gamers have criticised for requiring an internet connection.

Low-scoring user reviews have flooded Metacritic and online shops such as Amazon. The latter even took the dramatic step of pulling the game from sale.

This, combined with a recent, and ongoing, controversy over the use of micro-transactions in games such as Dead Space 3 and Real Racing 3, have made EA public enemy number one in the eyes of many gamers.

EA executives will hope the offer of a free game and an admission of guilt over the launch of SimCity will go some way to addressing growing anger at its business practices.

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