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EA says SimCity server issues improve, not yet 'all-clear'

Electronic Arts' video game SimCity is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Electronic Arts/Handout
Electronic Arts' video game SimCity is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Electronic Arts/Handout

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Server problems that botched the launch of Electronic Arts Inc's new "SimCity" title last week and incensed gamers who could not access the game for days have improved but not yet been fully resolved, the company said.

About a week since the game's launch, the company has been scrambling to add servers and issue client updates to tackle server connectivity issues that plagued users.

While video game crashes were down 92 percent since the "SimCity" release on March 5, the company needed some more time to issue an "all-clear," Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of EA's Maxis label that develops the game, said in a blog post on Sunday.

"We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent," Bradshaw said.

The rollout of the newest game in its 24-year-old "SimCity" franchise was met with an outcry on social networks and Internet forums from gamers who complained of being shut out from the game after receiving error messages.

EA said last week that it was unable to handle the user demand for its new title that is now fully hosted online and was setting up additional servers to bring the game back up.

To win back the support of its users, the company issued an apology on Friday and said it would offer them a free downloadable PC game from its portfolio.

"I know that's a little contrived - kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened," Bradshaw said in a blog post on Friday.

The classic city-building game first came out in 1989 and became one of Electronic Arts' biggest hits. The new, $60 game was given a modern-day look and feel, and received positive reviews before its launch.

EA's latest, online-only "SimCity" won plaudits for incorporating some of the most topical themes in urban planning, including environmental and renewable energy issues.

Shares of Electronic Arts climbed about 4 percent to $19.24 in afternoon-trading on the Nasdaq on Monday.

(Reporting By Malathi Nayak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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