EA Labels President Frank Gibeau says DRM had nothing to do with SimCity's always-online requirement. In a GamesIndustry International interview he stressed that the game was conceptualized and built by Maxis as a massively multiplayer experience.
"DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business," Gibeau said. "So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all."
His statements match those of Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw, who shook off calls for an offline mode, saying "in many ways, we built an MMO."
Gibeau pushed the MMO angle further, though he admitted EA did not make that aspect--and its potential drawbacks--clear enough before SimCity's launch.
"At no point in time did anybody say 'you must make this online'. It was the creative people on the team that thought it was best to create a multiplayer collaborative experience and when you're building entertainment... you don't always know what the customer is going to want. You have to innovate and try new things and surprise people and in this particular case that's what we sought to achieve. If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. And in fact, SimCity started out and felt like an MMO more than anything else and it plays like an MMO."