For those who aren’t aware, the new SimCity title is having a huge number of problems. A number of these problems are caused by the always-online requirement; with servers being slammed and other bugs interfering, players are finding themselves locked out of the single player experience a lot of purchasers want.
I was eyeballing SimCity review scores on Metacritic as a point of interest to see how different sites scored SimCity. A glance over these scores turned up something interesting: it seemed like all the sites that got early previews and most likely played on EA’s private servers (as Polygon did) gave the title much higher scores. To see if this was true, I charted SimCity’s professional Metracritic review scores over time and this is the result:
It’s pretty clear that the day 1 and day 2 reviews from gaming press sites were much, much more positive than any site that reviewed it later on. They cluster up in the 80% to 100% range, but even a few days later the review scores are much more spread. Polygon has three review scores up there to reflect the changing review scores it gave SimCity – a gushing March 4 review gave the title 9.5, a day later that was revised to 8.0 and then on March 7 it was downgraded again to 4.0.
So, to things that come to mind:
- Those gaming
journalistswriters that got early access to SimCity and most likely played on EA’s private servers did not get an accurate view of what SimCity would be like to play at launch. The result of this is that the Day 1 reviews would have encouraged people to purchase a title that they may have been locked out of due to server issues.
- Reviews posted later have had the benefit of seeing the situation blow up and possibly experienced the frustration of not being able to log in themselves. However, but this time the controversy was in full flight, so it’s very possible that the reviewers tempered their scores knowing how the masses were reacting to those issues i.e. not well.
One thing that might blur the line here with some of these scores: we don’t know when the actual reviews were written. Just because they were published on a certain day doesn’t mean that they weren’t written and finalised well before that date. It would be interesting to know if those who returned the higher review scores had played it pre-launch on EA’s servers or had actually had a good SimCity experience after the title had started its retail sales.
Regardless, it’s a concerning issue when reviewers are experiencing a completely different game than players will and then recommending the title based on something that may not be replicated after launch.