With Sim City recently running into DRM issues with servers not being available, I don't understand why developers would rather underestimate the demand and have a shitty launch than pay the money for more servers and then re-purpose them for the next launch when demand dwindles to the core followers.
Has there ever been a smooth, mostly error free launch of an MMO or always-on DRM controlled game?
With services like Amazon Web Services or Windows Azure, why would they not get their server team to set up a scaleable server that can launch on there to take the initial burst of launch month rockiness away from their core servers? It makes more sense to me because they can just rent it for the time they need to have a smooth launch and then kill it when the core servers can handle the day-to-day use.
They'd never have to load that up again, they've saved a ton of money by not buying their own servers to cover the initial burst of buyers AND they can go down in history as being the first dev to have a smooth launch of an online only game. Not to mention the savings on tech support just to tell people "the servers are busy, try again later".
There's obviously more to it, but I can see that being a huge reputation builder for immensely popular games if they simply MUST have DRM or are MMOs.