For a start, ok, let's look at the server load issues. Other games had server load issues too. E.g., WoW at launch, EA's own TOR, etc. They just had a login queue, but the servers continued working, and whoever got a connection, actually kept having it.
In SimCity's case they supposedly had a "login queue"... except it wasn't actually a queue. It didn't keep an order or adjust its predictions based on how many quit in front of you. It was just an enormous time (20 minutes!) being blocked from trying again. The clue that it wasn't really a queue was that it didn't change or even start differently if you tried different servers. You always got blocked for the same time, and there is no indication that someone who wasn't blocked and tried at the right time wouldn't skip in ahead of you. So, yeah, in 20 minutes you'd just get blocked again for another 20 minutes.
Not that it mattered for most servers, because they just were down and weren't accepting connections at all. So you wouldn't even get that joke of a "queue", you'd just get a network error.
And not that it mattered if you actually managed to connect, the server would die and nix your connection before you even managed to actually claim a city, or while trying to claim a city. (I.e., get your empty map to start a city on.)
I'm sorry, making a server that can only take a finite number of connections is ok and natural. You don't have infinite memory, nor CPU power, nor bandwidth. Making a server that crashes and burns if too many people attempt to connect, though, is just bad quality.
Not that it's the only case of bad coding. The game for example seems to have serious trouble even remembering the fucking settings. E.g., I keep deactivating the option to publish my achievements, but it seems to randomly pop back on. Especially it seems that a server crash makes it forget that option, which is to say, they fail to persist it. (And on top of that, when they pester me with it at the main screen, the game can't seem to tell if it's on or off anyway.)
Really, how stupid and incompetent does one have to be to botch saving the options, e.g., as some simple key/value pairs? I'm pretty sure even complete novices would find it hard to screw that up.
And really, what did they need multiplayer for, anyway? Reading their blog makes it sound like it being multiplayer opens so many oportunities and, werily I say unto you, make it a whole new game... except it doesn't.
The game is multiplayer in the same sense as publishing your minesweeper score makes minesweeper multiplayer. I.e., I can't even imagine how much brain damage someone would need to think that.
You can't actually be in the same city with a friend or anything. At most you can have your cities in the same zone and have a look at each other's city.
Plus, the sad part is right on the main menu screen, where it pesters you with that publishing your city events. The game tells you something to the tune of "Playing is more fun with friends! We can publish your game events in the GameLog for your friends!" Not an exact quote, but close enough and the meaning is that.
I'm sorry, but that's not "playing with friends", it's just putting a frikken log on the web. It's no more "playing with friends" than keeping a list of your Minesweeper scores on a blog page is.
I can't even imagine what kind of sad moron are they aiming for as a target demographic, that actually thinks publishing a list of events from an essentially single player game, is anything like actually playing a game together with some friends. Where the heck is the "playing together" part, ffs?
Even skipping after that, who the heck even cares to read such drivel on a web page as, basically, "PigBenis City reached 50,000 people?" Seriously, if some marketroid moron from EA is reading this, trust me, even if I were your BFF, I still wouldn't give a flying fuck about mundane events from your single player video game. The only people who care about that are those who can get something out of that, e.g., the people in the raid group who need you to be able to tank the boss, so THEY get their own chance at their own epic loot and tokens. Trust me, they're not checking your equipment out of care for you, nor are going to envy your gigantic virtual penis because you got the epic Sword Of Ganking +5. And even that requires an ACTUAL multiplayer game, not just a web page.
But ok, let's say they do think there is a whole market segment of friendless morons, for whom having a site with their game log is the closest they'll ever come to "playing with friends." WTH does that need a permanent connection for, or being an online game at all? Can't the game just upload the list of achievements at the end or in the background? Steam manages to do that just fine, for example, without making every game be online.
So, anyway, to sum it up: it's not even just that it's DRM, or that it calls home (Steam can do those without being intrusive), or even the lack of infrastructure. It's that the DRM and infrastructure are stupidly and incompetently implemented, that caused the problems. And on top of that, what's causing insult to injury is that the whole hype about it being online, is just BS, and that thus what caused the whole problems was a "feature" that the game needed like we all need a hole in the head.