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

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.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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There are 8 comments. Add yours.

striatic says:

It seems pretty obvious that the game relied on the Maxis servers, and for a standalone version of the game a local version of that server would have to be incorporated into the standalone game. That kind of port takes time.

Amortization is irrelevant. They blew off a ton of first day sales with the online only, server fail disaster. If they could have incorporated an offline mode sooner, they would have.

Peter Cohen says:

People had the game hacked to run offline within weeks of its initial release, so I don't accept that it couldn't have been done faster.

Regardless of whether it could or it couldn't have, my point remains: offline play should have been in the initial spec. Leaving it out was a stupid mistake.

Becjr says:

"my point remains: offline play should have been in the initial spec. Leaving it out was a stupid mistake."

Bull's eye!
I have never understood why Maxis pushed for online gameplay as the requirement for SimCity. It's not really a game that fits into the Co-op/competitive gaming arenas of the likes of mainstream heavy hitters such as SCII, CoD, etc.
Sadly, I haven't played SimCity in months (I think I only played it for a few weeks after its long delayed availability on the Mac) and part of that is because of the awkwardness that it holds with its heavy ties to Origin.
I suppose I can give it another go with this newest update.

asuperstarr says:

This is great news! I've never got into the sims game. But an offline feature is always a plus.

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DaveTheWaveUSMC says:

Played and loved the version before SimCity 2000. Wanted to get this version but there were so many apparent issues with EVERYTHING about this game. There was so much hate on this game it was nearly impossible to filter out feedback from just negativity.

Now that the game has been out awhile, is it a worthy investment now?

bobbob1016 says:

My thought is "If they're going to treat me like a pirate, why not just be one? Yargh!"

I mean, I'm sure the pirated copies worked fine from day one.

parabel says:

One day, when they put it on Steam instead of Origin, I might buy it.

By the way, this piece of news is interesting and all, but why am I reading about it here on iMore? Isn't this supposed to be an iPhone/iPad/Apple blog? iMore has so many articles per day that I have long given up on following it very closely (other, smaller iPhone blogs do the trick for me better nowadays) and I just glance at the headlines every once in a while, but non-iPhone related news like these clutter it up even more.

Becjr says:

If I could post pictures on this form I would but show a picture of me playing this game on my iMac for you.
;)

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