Hey, anyone remember me?
Anyway, I haven't played SC13* yet, but reading all the complaints so far I have a few cautiously, desperately optimistic thoughts. Basically, things WILL get better, slowly.
-The server problems will be resolved within a couple of weeks, as the flood of new users slackens off and traffic becomes more steady. Everyone who bought a copy, couldn't play right away, and swore they'd never buy another EA product again, will either sell/return their copy of the game or come trickling back.
-The bugs, glitches, and crashes will be mostly fixed by patches within a couple months. I don't blame EA for the bugs, no amount of beta testing can ferret out all the issues that will arise from playing a game like this for weeks on end.
-Sometime down the road EA might release a patch/expansion that allows for local saves, but the game will still require an always-on connection to the internet so it can phone home every now and then. Don't expect it any time soon though... if they do it at all, it'll be years from now when EA is looking to shutter their SimCity online systems. Maybe the patch will give you the option to play offline, or enter the address of a (third party) remote server to connect to. (Aside: I bet the code for this already exists, so as to make in-house testing possible during development. It was just removed or disabled prior to release.)
-I suspect the first major update we'll see, other than bug fixes, will be a set of content-creating tools for users to download. Region editor, BAT, Lot Editor, an "official" equivalent to the iLive Reader, and so on. At the same time, EA will launch their own Mod Exchange, where users can upload and download user-generated mods for free, and download "premium" mods for a price. $$$ for DLC is a nifty business model these days, even if users hate it. The most telling evidence for this is a screenshot I saw of an error that read something like, "You can not claim this city because you do not own some of the content used to create it." Wish I could find it now.
-The rumor mill says Maxis plans to add the abilty to make city tiles bigger, but that's a little ways away. Seems they fixed the city size small for performance reasons, and they still have to work out the scalability issues before offering bigger city tiles.
Recalling back to SimCity 4's release 13 years ago (has it really been that long??), there was a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how the online product registration didn't work, how you couldn't mod or customize anything, and how the game mechanics made building a successfull city next to impossible. Patches, the Rush Hour expansion, and the user-generated mods fixed pretty much all of those issues in due course, and it became Everyone's Favorite. This left SimCity 2013 with some awfully big shoes to fill, and it'll have to grow into them. SimCity 4 sucked right out of the box, but it got better and SimCity 2013 will too.
What do other folks think? Anyone else holding out hope?
*yes, I declare "SC13" to be the official abbreviation. Let it be so.