I'd Love To Tell You How Awesome SimCity Is

...but I can't, because of yet another poorly handled launch of a piece of software for which there's a ton of demand. Obviously, not the end of the world, and it's actually fully loaded and ready to play right now on my PC, but I committed to writing 4 nights a week, and I'm not going to give myself the excuse of playing SimCity all night, or the cool things I'm starting to line up for PAX East, an opportunity to stop me from writing something and putting it out there tonight.

I don't expect this post to be revelatory, but I know I'll never get to the point of consistently writing great stuff if I let excuses get between me and the work. Much like EA let excuses get between me and the game I had paid for and wanted to play last night (after writing my nightly post, of course).

They should have seen this coming. They've been building hype on this game for a couple years now. They had pre-order figures. They had the opportunity to let people downloads the game files in advance, which would've spread out their bandwidth load.

Like an idiot I read a comment section on an article about the fiasco, and someone was defending EA's conduct in this by pointing out that it makes no sense to buy a ton of server hardware for the sake of one relatively short period. And it's true, it doesn't. Which is why there's an entire industry of companies dedicated to this precise kind of use case. Rackspace, Amazon EC2, Exalogic... it's not hard to spool up enough horsepower to run hundreds of thousands of validation requests against a fixed database of keys that you had well in advance. When each key can only be used once things can get a little tricky, but even in that scenario there's no reason validation/provisioning of license rights can't be done in advance as well. I should only need to manually punch in and validate a key if I buy a retail copy, which eliminates the "everyone slamming the servers at once" issue since it takes time to get from the mall home, and so on. Third-party key resellers could be removed from the equation. All you have to worry about then is having enough game servers, and turning them on at 12:01am.

Maybe I'm dramatically underestimating the complexity of the problem, but I know enough about servers and hosting and where bottlenecks can occur from my time at Shopify that I don't think I'm crazy out of line in saying that EA could have handled this far, far better than they did. Now that I've finished grumbling, I think I'll actually play the damn thing. I've heard it's great.


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