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If nothing else, SimCity proves that no one is safe from scaling problems

"One lesson is that we needed longer, more comprehensive beta tests." - Lucy Bradshaw may be stating the obvious here, but it speaks to a bigger, scarier trend: developers of all sizes are still struggling to scale their games.

Frank Cifaldi, Contributor

March 15, 2013

1 Min Read

"One lesson is that we needed longer, more comprehensive beta tests."

- Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw reflects on its soured SimCity launch in an interview with VentureBeat. The media is abuzz with arguments about the merits (or lack thereof) of SimCity's always-online requirements, but there's another issue here that's going largely ignored, and it's one that it seems developers of all sizes are facing: scaling. It's obvious that something went very wrong between Maxis' test environment and its live environment. I've seen official company lines ranging from higher-than-expected sales to players loving the game so much that they couldn't stop playing (and, therefore, clogging up the servers), but for a game as highly anticipated at SimCity, it's hard to imagine that EA was somehow overwhelmed with demand for the game. Properly scaling a game to meet a growing player base is a challenge we hear about all the time, usually from smaller studios that suddenly have a breakout hit. For a company like EA to suffer these problems immediately with a game destined for success like SimCity is, frankly, a little terrifying.

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