SimCity to add offline mode, but why has it taken nearly a year?

EA's relaunch of the perennially popular SimCity brand last year met with a rocky start - the game was plagued with bugs on launch and the Mac version was delayed for months after the PC version's release. But one issue angered gamers more than any other: the requirement that the game maintain a persistent connection to its online servers. Necessary, the developer said, to keep the complex city simulation in sync. Turns out that's not true. Maxis, the game's developer, will finally support offline play for SimCity in a new patch, according to Maxis general manager Patrick Buechner, in a new blog post:

Yes, Offline is coming as a free download with Update 10 to all SimCity players. When we launch it, all of your previously downloaded content will be available to you anytime, anywhere, without the need for an internet connection. We are in the late phases of wrapping up its development and while we want to get it into your hands as soon as possible, our priority is to make sure that it’s as polished as possible before we release it.

So gamers can't get their hands on it today, but the good news is that it is coming.

Good news, but I remain disappointed that this wasn't part of the game's core spec to begin with. Gamers were incensed about the online requirements; despite Maxis' insistence that there were technical reasons for it, to many gamers, it appeared to be an onerous form of copy protection - the kind that ends up punishing people who do the right thing and buy the game instead of try to pirate it.

I'm not sure why it's taken Maxis and EA nearly a year to get this feature rolled into this particular update - whether it's legitimate technical issues or because, at this stage of the game's life, they feel like they've largely amortized the development cost and figure they can afford to lose a bit if people steal the game for offline play only.

One way or the other, I'm glad Maxis and EA is making this happen. Maybe this will bring more gamers to the rebooted SimCity in the process. It's a good game, and Maxis deserves credit for doing a proper Mac port of it, even if it took longer than it should have to get out the door.