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EA suspends ‘SimCity’ marketing campaign, will not offer refunds over server issues


The ongoing debacle that is Electronic Arts’ SimCity launch got even worse late this week, as the company chose to suspend its marketing campaign for the game in light of the controversy surrounding its rocky launch. EA also said the widespread technical issues that have plagued the city-building sims launch do not constitute “exceptional circumstances” for a refund for copies purchased via the company’s Origin service.

An internal email obtained by Polygon on Friday requests that all of EA’s affiliate partners “please remove any copy promoting SimCity from your website for the time being.” The company will also deactivate links through Linkshare. Affiliates are assured that all commissions based on referred sales will be paid, but asks them to “stop actively promoting the game.”

Since the game’s Tuesday launch, technical problems have plagued SimCity, with network outages, difficulty connecting to servers and other problems reported.

“We will notify you as soon as the SimCity marketing campaigns have been resumed and our promotional links are once again live in the Linkshare interface,” the email reads.

News of the suspension comes just one day after EA’s stance on refunds for SimCity users upset with the ongoing server issues made headlines. Despite previously being assured by EA’s community manager that customers who purchased the game through EA’s online Origin service could “of course request a refund for your order… though we are currently in the process of resolving this issue,” reports of EA refusing to offer refunds for SimCity‘s technical problems, which have caused numerous headaches for consumers trying to play the always-online title, flooded the Internet on Thursday.

Generally, Origin offers no refunds for purchased titles, though customers can request them for “exceptional circumstances.” Develop reports that it reached out to EA Origin customer support to clarify the issue and were told server issues do not fall under that qualification “right now.” A transcript of that conversation reveals any change in that stance would be announced widely, but the representative questioned had “no idea if that will even come to be, or any other information about it.”

Despite generally positive reviews from critics – the game currently sits at a 76 percent rating from professional reviews on Metacritic – both the game and publisher have been widely panned since the Tuesday release due in large part to the ongoing server issues, which wreak havoc even with players gaming alone. SimCity – the fifth game in the long-running urban planning and development series – requires a constant Internet connection to play, both to enable social aspects of the game and to combat piracy, and the server issues have reportedly caused long waits accessing the game, crashes and even deletion of save files. The launch has been so spotty that Amazon chose to stop selling digital copies of the game Thursday and, as happens often in these circumstances, the game has been ravaged across the Web by angry consumers (for example, user reviews on Metacritic rate the game at a 1.6 out of 10, and the game earns an average of one-star from Amazon users). Editorials from gaming news publications big and small have taken EA to task for its lack of preparedness for the launch and its subsequent handling of the fallout – including one from a StickSkills staffer.

As of this writing, EA and developer Maxis are reportedly working to resolve the issue, but how long it will take to fix the problem and allow consumers easy access to the game remain to be seen.

What do you think of these newest wrinkles in the ongoing SimCity saga? Have you tried playing the city-building sim, or have the constant technical issues caused you to give up on the game? Let us know in the comments below.

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