Offline SimCity did not fit with Maxis' vision

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Maxis. Ire from SimCity players ebbed a bit when the game's servers caught up (for the most part) with consumer demand and downtime and disconnections abated. Since then, anger has shifted to the root of the problem: SimCity's need to always be online.

Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw responded to players who question the game's need for constant internet access, those who berate it as thin justification for stricter anti-piracy measures.

"It didn’t come down as an order from corporate and it isn’t a clandestine strategy to control players," Bradshaw wrote. "It’s fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind--using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world."

She listed the game's features which require constant connection with servers: interactions between cities, gifts between players, a reactive market, worldwide goals, and regionwide Great Works, to name a few. All of the former are multiplayer aspects.

"The game we launched is only the beginning for us--it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO," Bradshaw concluded. "So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the 'single city in isolation' that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans--people who love the original SimCity--who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality."

Bradshaw seemed to acknowledge what modders have already demonstrated--the core experience of building a city can function offline with minor changes to the game. She told Polygon last week that significant essential calculations offloaded to SimCity's server make an offline mode impractical. But it's simpler than that:

Maxis' vision does not include an offline mode, and it's not going to make one.


  • JackC8 - March 17, 2013 6:17 a.m.

    EA to Lucy Bradshaw: "You want the big bucks, you've got to get out there and tell the big lies."
  • winner2 - March 16, 2013 5:22 p.m.

    That's some potent bullshit, might have to start calling it maxishit
  • Leemundo - March 16, 2013 5:16 a.m.

    Online is getting too big for its boots. I had the multiplayer bug, played Gears and COD until the birds started chirping at 6am, not anymore. Servers are too unstable, especially where EA is concerned. I can't remember the last time I played multiplayer without being disconnected from the servers. I have still sunk more hours into great offline games like Skyrim, Mass Effect and even Tropico. Now I'm being forced to play what is essentially a single player game online with multiplayer?! Unless they start rolling tanks down my highway I don't thnk it really is multiplayer, the CPU can handle "trade and commuting" multiplayer elements. What is all this social interaction?! Why don't you integrate Twitter into SimCity because lord knows I really need to see a picture of someone's dinner while I'm playing or some new fangled Harlem Shake. I long for the days of 14hours locked in my room playing games wrapped up in the gameplay, not pondering my social actions within the game.
  • crazycrudd - March 16, 2013 12:08 a.m.

    What I am confused by here is how will the online multiplayer work for people who are not playing with people they know? I mean sure, some people will work well together in a region but from my understanding of the game it really only takes one person to totally fuck it up. So unless there is a way to boot someone from the region who is messing everything up, it appears to me that a good amount of the time playing with random people will inevitably fail.
  • Inthedistrict - March 16, 2013 5:49 p.m.

    I believe they're claiming that each server has a "global market" that our goods are based on. So for instance, if you import petroleum to your city, the price of your import is based off of production and demand for the entire server. Supposedly, this is part of the reason why you cannot move your city to another server in the game, which would lead to market fluctuation and instability. Frankly, if you ask me, I think it's a load of crap. I doubt Maxis has the capability to (at least at this point) or the resources to really pull that off. I'm sure the online play is mostly related to piracy.
  • Shinn - March 15, 2013 9:31 p.m.

    So yet again, people who pirate the game ultimately end up with a better experience and much less hassle than the rest of us. I'm glad I didn't pre-order this, and unless the always on drm is patched out for single player (as it is in every other game that tries to pull this bs), I wont be buying it at all.
  • Inthedistrict - March 16, 2013 5:51 p.m.

    Do they though? I guess in the sense that they didn't pay for a pirated game, but I don't see why they wouldn't be getting the same crappy experience. They have to use the same servers, and same dumbed down gameplay.
  • Shinn - March 18, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    Well, a pirate can play offline (obviously) by themselves, they could install and play the game as soon as they stole it, and if they wanted multiplayer they have the option to purchase the actual game. A pirate would have a different experience with the game because EA's shoddy servers and always on DRM wouldn't affect them unless they chose to purchase the game for multiplayer (or to support the devloper/publisher).
  • Nines - March 15, 2013 7:13 p.m.

  • brickman409 - March 16, 2013 10:06 p.m.

  • Frieza - March 15, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    Maxis is blind.
  • KA87 - March 15, 2013 4:12 p.m.

    Useless people like "your vision", you will go broke in the gaming industry. More chaos (free will) and less order (controling DRM).
  • lincoln-thurber - March 15, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    So, it was designed not to work? Their plan all along was constantly online, but couldn't design it to work, that doesn't make sense. Moreover, how did they "somehow" figured out a 40% efficiency on how to design the servers in three days? Exactly how much panning went into this before, in that case of a three day solution that also breaks the game? That would be none, no planning, correct? I cannot imagine sitting in an early meeting about the game and seeing "always online" on the whiteboard without saying, "That will be an unpopular choice!" Every damn game player sitting on the room would have seen that on the whiteboard and said, "That is a terrible idea to have as the only option." Who plans to make unpopular choices or choices that have only one "bottle-necked" solution? The problems we have seen this week is all about either poor planning or poor coding. So, which is it Lucy Bradshaw, incompetence or arrogance to release something broken?
  • ParagonT - March 15, 2013 3:28 p.m.

    "Our vision." Right..... If everyone could hide behind that excuse where the heck would we be? They are trying to sell us a product (and service), so if they're selling their work in such a way, then you can't just take the moral highroad and starving artist philanthropy to defend it (especially living off of the corporate's tit). You can do two things; You can understand that your main goal is to make money off of your work to live, or you can be the starving artist, believing your work cannot be judged and is priceless. Obviously they're doing the first, so they must come to terms that everyone will have their own opinions that if their vision/choice was right or not (value wise as well). Art can be ANYTHING that moves you personally, you can't eat it or live off of it alone, but you need it to feel alive. /from a graphic designer
  • Malakie - March 15, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    and that is why people like me will NOT buy the game. I refuse to buy anything that REQUIRES me to be online to use or play.
  • CUFCfan616 - March 15, 2013 3:20 p.m.

    did they stop to ask if people would want an offline mode? too many bad decisions in this industry are made because the gamers themselves are not asked what they want and the developers/publishers just assume that what's best for them is best for the gamer.
  • sandplasma - March 15, 2013 3:14 p.m.

    Nicely said Iowa
  • Iowahawkeyedave - March 15, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    Which means that Maxis's vision wasn't in line with their consumer's vision. "We didn't focus on the single city in isolation like in previous games" Oh really? SimCity 4 wasn't a single city in isolation, you could have huge regions made up of multiple big cities.

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