The follies of Maxis' launch for the new SimCity title have been well-documented. Now, with server access stabilising (but many features still defunct), the studio's general manager Lucy Bradshaw has suggested that perhaps the studio was "too ambitious" in what it wanted to achieve, and has called the early slew of negative reviews "fair".
"We made this game for you because you asked us for another SimCity," Bradshaw said, speaking to the gaming community via an interview with CVG. "It's our fault that we got a little too ambitious and I'm disappointed that the Live Service didn't live up to its end of the bargain. But we are responding quickly and I am so proud of the team at Maxis for the way that they've come together to resolve these issues."
Earlier, Bradshaw had responded to claims that early negative reviews might have perhaps been unfair, given that nearly all online-only releases have teething trouble. To her credit, she advocated the opposite, only hoping that reviewers would return to the game in due course.
"We understand that there are some people who reviewing SimCity on its merits as a game, and some are reviewing it on its merits as a service. To that degree, I don't disagree with the way in which reviews have been handled.
"Some may call it unfair that we are being punished for our server issues, but it is fair. SimCity is an online game and everyone - fans and critics - have every right to expect the experience to be smooth from start to finish. My hope is that some of those reviewers will revisit the game now that we have smoothed out that experience."
She also fielded a question asking her what she thought the industry might learn from this debacle.
"Never underestimate the power of your fans. All of the sales data, charts and graphs can't tell you the entire story. Test your game in the real world as much as possible because your players will challenge your game in ways that you never thought possible."
We've suggested that this feels far more like a beta version than a finished product and, as contrite as the statements coming out from Maxis have been, it's difficult not to feel aggrieved as paying consumers given the enormous tides of worry and criticism that led up to SimCity's release predicting exactly this situation.
But neither would Maxis have particularly desired this outcome.
“I’ve been at the Maxis studio almost 24/7 since we launched on March 5 and I have an open rapport with each and every one of them. I’ve been a part of Maxis since 1997 when I was brought in to oversee development on SimCity 3000 and I’ve worked with a number of people on the team for years.
“I feel like I let them down, this was my responsibility, but I tell them what we all know: SimCity is a wonderful game and that we should all be proud of the effort that went into making it. I’m taking every step possible to bring the game to stability so that the rest of the world can enjoy all of their hard work.”
Of course, now that the servers have stabilised to allow access, we're able to appreciate both the potential and the flaws, and it's clear that there's some way to go yet.