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Coping when Game Servers Give Up the Fight aka the SimCity Problem

If there is one thing that SimCity has managed to prove to us this week it’s that, although there is a focus on cloud gaming and relying on servers and the internet to power the future of gaming we are not there yet. It’s a nice dream that we will always be connected, that the servers can cope and that the games will always be available but that is just not the case.

A lot of games, especially social ones on smart phones and apps on sites such as Facebook often force you to be online, and often have problems that force you to not play and this will always be a problem. What SimCity has helped prove is that there are big problems when games rely on servers, no matter how good the game is.

The Server is Not Available Right Now

The fact is the servers for SimCity can’t cope with demand, people are getting messages to say that it can’t connect or that they have to wait a certain amount of time until they can attempt to play. Of course EA are looking at their Origin servers and trying to improve reliability, but server dependant games are often a victim of their own success, especially for players who buy early. The more people that want to play online the more problems there are going to be.

The problem is servers can’t cope with the traffic, we’ve seen it with games like SimCity and even Steam when big game releases or updates are released. Servers don’t have an infinite amount of bandwidth and processing power to cope with high demand, and demand will only rise if we are pushed to all become dependent on them. What do we do when we can’t connect to our favourite game? The simple answer is that we don’t play.

The fact is if we are forced to always be connected, whether it’s for online play or DRM protection, or even just for updates to software the reliability has to be there or annoyance will start to make its way into gaming instead of the enjoyment we should be feeling after we’ve paid for these games. It’s obvious that in the future cloud gaming is going to become dominant and we’ll need less storage in our homes but for developers and the companies that will control the processing and storage for these games on their own servers? Plans will have to be made now, you can bet they already are.

So what do we do while we wait for the stability we need from gaming servers? Well we wait, and we hope for the best. All we can do for now is sit and wait to get onto our favourite game and hopefully get in first time, or have to sit in a queue and hope that we can stay connected and enjoy a good chunk of gameplay. If not we may find we’ll still be waiting until the server has some space for us, or of course we can go retro and play those games that don’t rely on other computers processing power.

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