‘SimCity’ Hack Lets Users Destroy Neighbors; EA Hiding Customer Service Numbers Online

Published 2 years ago by

SimCity Hack

Just when users thought the debacle of both failing server support and outright lies might finally be out of the spotlight for EA, it looks like SimCity fans are in for more disaster. Hackers have discovered that it’s possible to completely destroy players’ cities on public regions, and as a result overwhelmed SimCity support staff have begun censoring the customer support hotline number on the EA Forums — meaning gamers in need of help will face an uphill battle to get it.

As Maxis VIP Lucy Bradshaw explained, the servers handle all region status updates for players around the world. A few days ago, modders made the discovery that a few changes client-side would allow them to edit areas past their own city boundaries, which would then sync on the server-side over at Maxis. As innocent as this discovery was, it paved the way to much more sinister findings – that gamers could go into any neighbor’s region and effectively bulldoze their entire city. The hackers in the video below disabled server-side syncing for the purpose of demonstration, but stated that City Owner IDs could be spoofed to allow truly malicious hackers to actually perform these acts online.

Obviously, paying customers are more than a little offended after all their server woes, and now the city they painstakingly created on a public region can now be completely destroyed by any random Internet troll. SimCity hasn’t posted any official response to this hack, and hopefully their server-side securities and updates will actively prevent less-than-upstanding citizens from being able to do this.

Those looking to get in touch with customer support over the phone are also running into problems, as the customer service support hotline (866-543-5435) is being censored on the official SimCity forums. Whenever any user goes to enter the number, it is replaced by an asterisk; a common form of auto-censoring usually implemented for swear words and offensive content. Forum users tested other phone numbers on the boards and found that the official support hotline was the only number being censored, likely because EA is having problems dealing with the massive amount of calls.

SimCity Earthquake

If you think that’s a disaster, you weren’t paying attention to SimCity’s launch.

Valve has a similar practice on their own forums, replacing the phone number with a support email to prevent a volume of calls from building up. Still, this practice is much better than simply preventing customers from getting any kind of support at all, leaving confused users high and dry. Countless posts have appeared online from frustrated customers, most saying something among the lines of ‘SimCity‘s Titanic of a launch has hit another iceberg on its way down’, and it doesn’t take a genius to get the general tone of most consumers.

Amazon had previously halted sales of the game due to server issues, and EA is due to announce a free Origin-based game as a peace offering to disappointed customers. Most likely, the inclusion of an offline mode sounds like the only way Maxis can possibly make amends at this point. With customer trust and horrible public relations moves being highlighted on a seemingly daily basis, offline is one game mode that just can’t come soon enough. Of course, that’s assuming Maxis actually decides to do it.

What do you think, Ranters? Are you frustrated by the plethora of problems in SimCity? Would you purchase another online-only game by Maxis?

Follow me on Twitter @Makelevi.

Sources: CinemaBlend, Destructoid

TAGS: Electronic Arts, Maxis, Origin, PC, SimCity

  • Dante

    Ahh yes, combat piracy at the cost of having a playable game. Sounds very EA.

    Always online to play a city-building simulator? LOL

  • fanofgames

    Lol so there blocking people from calling for help? What kind of b/s is that! EA your so pathethic! LOL if you cant handle some feedback then they shouldnt even be in the video gaming industry. What abunch of lies. Each and every one of EAs employees is a joke, they all deserve to be shot.

    • ATG


      “Valve has a similar practice on their own forums, replacing the phone number with a support email to prevent a volume of calls from building up.”

      • Misha

        yea but they give them a support email meaning they still offer help but they simply try to get you to email them instead of calling, which they have a legitimate reason to do. They run Steam, the largest online game distribution software. Sure EA runs Origin but Origin sucks compared to Steam and they don’t offer you any help

        • ATG

          Is there not a support email for this on the site? I wouldn’t know. Both companies have a legitimate reason for doing this. Call centers are very small compared to the volume they can get. He shouldn’t bash EA when Steam does it too. Either none or both. And I’ve read from a few forums that EA’s customer support is better. But again, I personally wouldn’t know.

          And yea, in comparison, Origin is weak compared to Steam. I’ve also read that Steam received the same hate Origin gets now when it launched. I’m glad Origin (and other online distributors) exist. Without competition, you still think Steam would be as good as it is?

          Steam has been around a long time and has done a ton great things, I don’t think it’s fair to judge the two on the same standard. Origin was still in beta in 2011. Not saying Origin will pass Steam, because I don’t think it will. Origin isn’t bad, just not as good compared to Steam. Which is why I don’t understand why gamers curse its name. I understand preferring Steam over Origin, but to hate it with such a passion?

          Very rarely do I see people commenting on EA that aren’t trolls or fanboys, or just flat out dramatic. 90% of the time, I see sheep.

          • Misha

            The reason gamers curse Origin is because with all of their games on one distributing software (Steam) it was so much simpler to play games with all of their friends and to get them all from one place, but with EA introducing Origin a lot of gamers now have to turn to Origin to play games such as Battlefield 3, which was never released on Steam. It’s like going to a department store to buy an iPod but then learning that Apple has pulled all of its products off the shelves of department stores and you now have to go to the rundown crappy Apple Store across town to get the iPod (not trying to hate on Apple here, just using them for a hypothetical example). All that Origin was was a money grabbing maneuver. There was absolutely no other reason to release Origin. EA is doing the same thing with Sim City 5. They’re trying to grab money by making it online only to try and prevent piracy. Well with the price tags on EA games rising but the quality dropping who would want to buy an EA game?

          • ATG

            Your analogy is flawed. You’re talking about taking an extra trip when in reality it’s like, 2 clicks away. You won’t find an Ipod being sold at a Samsung store and vice versa.

            Origin was to eliminate the middle man. That’s considered SMART in business practices. Maximize profit and eliminate piracy is every business’ dream.

  • Iceycold

    No sympathy for people who’ve supported such abhorrent anti-consumer policies as always-on DRM by actually buying the game.

    They deserve everything they get.

  • simshitty

    Hahahahaha EA is a joke I’m so glad this is getting worse and worse for them, hopefully other companies will take note and realise WE DO NOT WANT A GAME THAT HAS TO BBE ONLINE WITH NO CHOICE. We pay high enough price as it is for games, so why would bbe pay full wack for a game we don’t really own?? Loving this.

  • DarthMalnu

    Ah, I love the smell of vindication in the morning. Good work city trolls, keep the pressure on.

  • Jasca_Ducato

    Common sense 2 – 0 EA/Maxis

  • Borous

    Not even once.

    • JT

      Not once.

  • Daniel Carlson

    Hahahaha burn ea burn!!!!

  • Rad

    If this goes on much longer I think I will using “EA” as a verb.

    When a company lies to your face, or refuses to admit the painfully obvious, they are “EAing”.

  • ATG

    Wow, this launch was an epic failure. And it’s all just spiraling out of control. Anti piracy methods gone wrong, publishers and developers lying, hackers exposing more, it’s all one big cluster f***.

    I don’t think the DRM/always on was the big issue. It’s how they handled the launch and controversy, beyond poorly.

    • ATG

      To clarify, the anti piracy methods are poorly implemented, the idea is fine but could use tweaking.

  • Daniel

    Contrary to what all the media is saying, as a person who is seriously enjoying this game with my friends in a private region, it is not all terrible. The gameplay and graphics are fantastic, and the servers aren’t having problems anymore (not on my end at least). I haven’t had a single rollback or problem that everyone seems to be complaining about, and it is the best SimCity I’ve played to date.

  • Tom

    EA, this is just pathetic.

    • Tom

      Followup: Having re-read the article, I take that back. It’s *possible* that the changes might sync back to the server, but it might not. This exploit isn’t proven, so the title to this article should have a big asterisk next to it.

  • Branden

    Maxis was forced to make this game suck because of EA.

  • Marcus


    EA & EA/BioWare’s Track Record:

    Strike One: “Dragon Age II’s” horrible dumbing down caused people to get upset. People were also complaining about the over expensive (release day) download content. As a result of the dumbing down, the game sales started to sink fast. “Hit a button and something awesome happens. Button, awesome.” ~ BioWare

    Strike Two: “Mass Effect III’s” ending didn’t allow options, and the whole gaming community lashed out in bloody vengeance. People were also complaining about the over expensive (release day) download content.

    Strike Three: “SW: TOR” was released as a single-player-multiplayer-online game, which was beatable within two to three weeks. As a result of people dropping subscriptions, EA/BioWare quickly turned the game into Free to Play. Do you remember when they said, ” “Star Wars: The Old Republic” will be released with ten games worth of content.”? rofl…

    Strike Four: “SW: TOR’s” free to play features were revealed, and everyone became angry due to them being too restricted. As a matter of overall fact, EA/BioWare just nerfed the XP gain for F2P.

    Strike Five: “SW: TOR’s” new reputation system can only be complete by spending cash. Other words, in order to progress through the rep system, you have to spend money on overly expensive and useless items. People just started to get made about this issue.

    Strike Six: EA’s CEO came forwards and said, “I have not approved of any game, which does not require some sort of online element.” (paraphrase). Everyone blew up on that statement.

    Strike Seven: “Sim City” controversy…

    • Marcus

      Tune in next week when…

      EA announces that the free game, given to angry “Sim City” customers, is an outdated and incompatible title for modern computers.


    • Misha

      for me it’s more like this:
      Strike 1: EA releases Origin and basically forces you to play all of their games on there with their shitty support instead of Steam which has much better and more user friendly features.
      Strike 2: Battlefield 3 is much worse than BFBC2, not worth the huge price tag.
      Strike 3: EA ruins what made Crysis good by trying to make it more console friendly.
      Strike 4: EA ruins Mass Effect 3 with it’s ending.
      Strike 5: EA tries to fix Mass Effect 3 with DLC, meaning that when someone buys Mass Effect 3, they are not actually buying the full game. In order to get the full game you now also have to pay extra for all the overpriced DLCs released with it.
      Strike 6: EA screws up Dead Space 3 by turning it into Gears of War.
      Strike 7: EA screws up Sim City 5 with its only online feature.
      Strike 8: EA’s customer support.
      et cetera…

  • Misha

    Don’t blame maxis. They’re just getting pushed around by EA at this point. They could probably make a great game if they didnt have EA breathing down their necks telling them to make it online only.

    • http://www.gamerant.com Makelevi

      Actually, Maxis VP Lucy Bradshaw said earlier that always-online was Maxis’ idea, and not EA’s:

      • TheBob!

        Lucy Bradshaw has said a lot of stuff in the last week or two. Much of it not true.

  • TheLostWinchester

    I’m really glad that I stopped buying EA games altogether when Battlefield 3 introduced the Origin plattform. I don’t miss their games at all and it saved me a lot of frustration.

    It’s time that more and more people finally wised up and stopped shoving money down that company’s throat! Vote with your wallets! Don’t buy their crap anymore. Don’t pirate it either. Just ignore everything they put out and let them perish. Their employees will be better off when the find work at publishers that regard customers as their livelihood and not as their enemies.

  • Alex

    EA is becoming a joke. I don’t even buy their games any more.

    • Misha

      EA is not becoming a joke, EA is a joke.

  • Jak Frost

    sigh F*** you EA