Sim City (2013) Debacle Raises Health of PC Gaming Questions, Could Affect Industry as a Whole

In a day and age where so many have computers for browsing the Internet, working, and completing simple tasks, the less it has seemed that people have been enjoying video games within the same equipment. Gaming has made the big switch the big screen in the living room to consoles which began its upward trend with the launch of the PlayStation. We won’t go into the history of gaming, as many reading are familiar with the legacy, but when the changeover began the die-hard core PC gamers suffered. Whether it was a lack of games that would be released to the greater masses on the consoles, or piracy running ramped and scaring developers away from the platform; those that wanted the best technology and show what gaming was truly made of were the ones that were forced to endure the pain. PC gaming hit all time lows. As developers came back to the model because of advancements in stopping piracy, PC gaming began the upward swing of prevalence again. The introduction of programs and hubs such as Steam, Origin, and other online purchasing options gave developers a safe and easy way to sell their products and many times save gamers money by doing so.

Even with such releases, the market still showed its struggles with illegally obtained versions of their games which cut profits drastically and forced many to consider whether it was worth it or not to release these versions. Enter Digital Rights Management Software. Some thought they had found the solution by implementing DRM software that forced gamers to use the Internet to play games, even if they were wanting to play it as a single player experience. There are plenty of games out there, such as World of Warcraft, that consumers can enjoy with others, but there are times that enjoying a game for what it is from the comfort of your own home with no one else to distract you is the optimal way to play. Even though being connected doesn’t force you to play the game online, it does force you to fork over extra money to play a game that you have purchased, for Internet service that may not be used for anything other than enjoying the game. Consider this, from a United States study reported by CNET in 2010, forty percent of America did not have broadband Internet service, and thirty percent had no access to Internet at all. This is a staggering number of people who are forced to find other means to enjoy games if the title they want has this type of software on it. In the end this was the beginning of something terrible for PC gaming.

all parties, both criminals and companies are slowly pressing the knife deeper into the gut of PC gaming and killing the momentum that had been gained over the last five to ten years, and killing PC gaming in general.

Consoles have undoubtedly become a wonderful alternative to PC gaming, especially for those that do not enjoy the luxuries of the World Wide Web. However, not all experiences can be had on the consoles that are offered, and can only be had on a PC. For those that love the Sim City franchise, this is a perfect example of how you’re being screwed. There is simply no way to play the game on anything other than a PC with Internet access, and this is the very reason that consoles have taken over the video game marketplace. Computers are, undoubtedly, strong devices with amazing capabilities but instead of allowing people to enjoy the game, implementing software that challenges criminals to rip the game, and giving the people that pay for the game the right to play it how they choose; companies have been forced to protect what money they are bringing in with DRM software that is always on. Instead of thinking that they can fix the issues shown in previous games and other DRM implementations, Sim City is the perfect example that the complexities of such a feat are simply too great to overcome.

If those people that waited in lines at Midnight, woke up and stopped at their local game store at open, or took the day off of work because their favorite game series has its first launch since 2007, are forced to wait to play their game, there is something drastically wrong. I stopped in on the same launch day as Sim City, to Gamestop and picked up my copy of Tomb Raider and was able to enjoy it on my Xbox 360 at the time I got home. I had the right to play a game that I legally obtained, with my money, when I chose to. No one was telling me that I couldn’t. Sim City fans were obviously not as lucky. They were not able to play a game that they, too had received a legal copy of, and because of the launching companies, Electronic Arts and Maxis, need to protect what money they make; consumers were the ones that suffered. In turn, all parties, both criminals and companies are slowly pressing the knife deeper into the gut of PC gaming and killing the momentum that had been gained over the last five to ten years, and killing PC gaming in general.

If companies can not find a logical way to protect their software, and pirates don’t stop their dishonest activity, PC gaming will continue its downward spiral and eventually, sooner rather than later, meet its demise. While consoles are well underway in the next generation, with the release of the Wii U, and the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 as well as being entrenched in society as a viable means of entertainment; the thought that consoles might too limit the ability for people to do with their products what they please could lead to damage for the industry in general. The issue is that corporations spend a lot of money to fulfill the public’s wants and desires, and the public supports them with their money back; but as computers advance in their abilities so do the individual skills needed to obtain the same software illegally. In the end, it is those that pay for the games that suffer and are forced to pay higher prices or not enjoy the game that we paid for.

The industry needs to be smart and figure out ways to control piracy and profits without handcuffing consumers that support their business. Without us as consumers, they don’t exist, and without companies like Electronic Arts, we don’t enjoy the games we do now. It is a desperate struggle between two sides that are trying to protect what is theirs, whether it be the profits from the game or the right to handle their products as they have become theirs by way of paying for them. PC gaming, especially, is in a delicate state. With the prominence of console gaming already wearing on the health of the PC world, things like always-on DRM are the extra kick that can keep a good thing down. Sim City was important to show what the PC was capable of, because of its rich history of games, but when a game such as this can’t even get it right, it hurts the industry as a whole. Without games like Sim City, other companies will scatter because they will attempt to find success elsewhere. Should Microsoft and Sony decided to do the same with their next consoles and attempt to control profits through DRM features, that industry too will falter and struggle. The fear is that gaming will not last because neither side can afford, consumers and developers, to lose money that they earn. EA, and Sim City developer Maxis, figuring out a way to fix the problem as fast as possible will only help in the end because as of now, the dish being cooked up is nothing but a recipe for disaster for PC gaming and the gaming industry in general.

Does this affect your faith in PC gaming? Will you buy a next-gen console should they choose similar features? Let us know in the comments below!

Written By Nick

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he’s seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.

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the author

Nick is a man obsessed with all things related to film. From the most obscure to the very popular, he's seen it all and hopes to one day turn his obsession into a career that makes a lot of money so he can buy a monkey, a bulldog, and a full size Batman suit.

  • Nick

    PC gaming is dying is one bold statement, Aaron. While I’m a console gamer myself, I still feel that PC will never die. It’s hard to say that a shit hole like EA would ruin an entire method of playing video games, but it’s definitely worth mentioning that they aren’t helping their own image or Sim City’s. This entire clusterfuck has just pissed me off more than anything, and I don’t even own the game. So frustrating that such a big company like EA can get away with this. It has to be illegal.

  • Consoles are in their own right a method of DRM, that’s the rub there. As far as DRM in general goes though, we all know it doesn’t work. The music industry taught us that. And if things are priced correctly then there’s little need to pirate any of it. As far as Internet goes aren’t the consoles trying to push that connectivity as well? Microsoft’s LIVE is big business for them, and this is turning out to be more of a marketing plus for everyone if they force you into some sort of account or online store, such as Steam (which I must admit I like Steam tho). They see this as brand loyalty, but we all see it for the trap it is. Software in general is a fickle beast, including EULA’s that proudly proclaim that while indeed you paid for it, you didn’t actually buy anything other than the right to use it as the company selling it sees fit. Buying digital goods these days really sucks. There’s simply no way for longevity of these products. What happens if EA shutters it’s doors? Your Sim City playing days are over then, unless you crack the now unsupported DRM. That’s why I never buy anything like this anymore, unless it’s cheap enough.

  • Aaron

    Your right, it is a bold statement, but it’s not just Electronic Arts that’s ruining it. Games like Diabo III had similar issues upon launch and other have too. This isn’t simply a company problem, this is a PC gaming problem as a whole. Until they can get the situation under control, consumers wont continue to pay their hard earned money for games that they simply cant enjoy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if issues such as these continue and slowly kill the market and desire people have for playing on the PC because of the tainted experience. Its unfortunate, because I am a console gamer by trade, but I understand the importance of PC gaming to the market. Having it die would be a devastating and insurmountable blow to the market in general.

    Thanks for the Comment!!

  • Aaron

    You right Trevor, and thanks for the comment, I think that online services are a type of trap that rope you in to enjoying the game to the fullest extent. The loophole is that individuals can enjoy games without online connections, for now with the current systems on the market. If the talk of an always online Xbox or PlayStation is indeed true for the future, than I believe that this could cause some scary times for all companies. Its dangerous telling people what they can and can’t do with the products they buy. We just have to hope that they will be smart enough to speak with their pocket books.