Problems with Online Multiplayer
by ZackC on October 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM EST

Grand-Theft-Auto_VWhy GTA5 is not as bad as SimCity

Recently, there have been issues with games and their online multiplayer functionality.  The launch of SimCity was a very bad one, and Grand Theft Auto 5 has also had some issues.  The difference between these two games and their issues was that while one wouldn’t let you play with people online, the other would not let you play the game at all.   Multiplayer downtime is never a good thing for a game, but if there is something the players can do while the multiplayer is down, then the downtime is not as bad.

At the launch of SimCity, players were not able to play the game because the game required an internet connection, as well as a connection to servers that were powering portions of the game.  The incident that occurred was that there were too many players trying to connect to the servers, which made it so that no one was able to connect and play the game at all. simcity-2013

GTA 5 has also recently had issues with online play.  Just like SimCity, the issues have been because too many people have been trying to play online and connect to servers.  Unlike with SimCity, GTA 5 does not put as much strain on the servers, and some players were able to play the game.

Another big difference between the incidents was the response time.  SimCity took several days for the game to be functional and at that point the game did not have all the features that it was supposed to have.  GTA 5’s problems were solved fairly quickly because they did not have to alter the game in any way, they just needed more servers.

Perhaps the biggest difference though is the fact that GTA 5 was playable during the downtime.  GTA 5 still allowed players to play single player.  To simply play SimCity, players were required to sign in online, and because the servers were clogged up, the game was unplayable.  Thus, the GTA 5 incident was not as bad. GTA-Online

However, Rockstar Games still should have seen the record number of copies sold and inferred that many players would want to play online.  They gave themselves two weeks after the launch of the game to get everything ready for the online multiplayer; they could have seen the sales numbers, and added more servers to deal with the problem. While Rockstar should be praised for the speed at which they dealt with the problem, it should be noted that the problem should never have occurred in the first place.

Both incidents stem from the same issue: not enough servers to deal with the player demand.  While GTA 5 solved their issues quickly, SimCity took much longer.  If there is one thing to be learned from both incidents, it’s to never underestimate demand for a video game.

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