SimCity has released in Europe today, and so far, the servers seem to be holding [UPDATE: Carl and Matt report that they're incredibly shaky as of 14:08... uh-oh]. Though we'll likely have an incredibly nervous weekend in store, some long load times are nothing compared to the problems it's facing Stateside in what has become a disastrous opening week.
Since Tuesday, thousands of American gamers have reported that they're unable to even activate their digital copy, while many who've managed to log into the game have lost progress due to server problems. This has lead to a massive backlash against EA and Origin on Twitter, Metacritic and Amazon, the latter of whom actually stopped selling their download version yesterday in light of this issue (at the time of writing, they seem to be back in business).
A petition to add offline functionality has managed to attract over 30,000 signatures.
EA has continually apologised for the outages, but were accused for banning players who asked for a refund, evidenced by what appears to be an incriminating chat log. EA have staunchly denied the allegations, but refuse to refund irate gamers as part of their "general policy" regarding downloadable Origin games. However, in the EU, we're entitled to a 14-day "cooling off" period in which we can legally request a refund.
Developer Maxis have been caught in the crossfire, and apologised for the issues. "Thousands of players across the world are playing and having a good experience - in fact, more than 700,000 cities have been built by our players in just 24 hours," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained to Kotaku. "But many are experiencing server instability and consequently, the rollout in North America has been challenging. It's also now evident that players across Europe and Asia are experiencing the same frustration.
"Our priority now is to quickly and dramatically increase the number and stability of our servers and, with that, the number of players who can simultaneously access the game. We added servers today, and there will be several more added over the weekend. We're working as hard as possible to make sure everyone gets to experience the amazing game we built in SimCity."
We wait with baited breath to see what happens over the weekend (two new EU server have already been added) - and will deliver our full review when we feel it's representative and appropriate (not rushing it out and then moderating the score). For now, we'd suggest that you'd hold off on a purchase until the situation has normalised.