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SimCity maker offers free game to disappointed customers

Game publisher Maxis and its parent company Electronic Arts are making amends for the shaky launch of its SimCity title by offering those who’ve bought the game a free game download from parent company EA’s Origin service.

Anyone who has activated a new copy of the latest SimCity fame should receive an e-mail from Maxis to get access to one of eight games — including Battlefield 3, Dead Space 3 and Mass Effect 3, the company said in a blog post.

The game maker had promised to give users a free game download earlier this month, after players found their copies of SimCity were encountering several connection problems that prevented them from playing their games. It also raised questions about why the game needed to be connected to the Web to function properly, particularly as previous versions of the urban planning game did not require an Internet connection to function.

Maxis’ general manager, Lucy Bradshaw, said in a blog post Friday that the company could have built an offline, single-player version of the game but “rejected” that idea because the company wanted players to be able to interact with each other’s cities to trade and communicate with each other.

“In many ways, we built an MMO,” she said, referring to the massively multiplayer online genre of game, which lets players log on to servers to play and interact with the same world. While past versions of SimCity may have granted players the opportunity to make their own, custom worlds, Bradshaw said that the company would like to see the game become more cooperative.

EA announced in a news release Monday that SimCity, despite its launch problems, had sold more than 1.1 million units in its first two weeks, setting a record for the series. Around 54 percent of those sales, the company said, were from digital downloads. Thus far, players have created more than 5.7 million cities and logged over 15 million hours of online gameplay, the release said.

Those players who qualify for the free download, Bradshaw said, should register their games by March 26 at 2:59 a.m., Eastern, and will be eligible to claim a free game by March 31 at 2:59 a.m.

Related stories:

Electronic Arts apologizes for ‘SimCity’ launch woes; offers free PC game

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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