SimCity Offline Mode Coming Soon
Let’s just say in the universe of things that were inevitable, SimCity Offline Mode would be squarely planted in the center with a $8.99 gift shop DLC on it. That’s right, the proverbial black eye in a continual series of black eyes for EA is actually getting nixed. SimCity will be able to be played completely offline in single-player mode. Patrick Buechner of the Maxis Emeryville studio posted a statement about the upcoming changes. In short, it’s not out yet, it’ll be free (duh), and they’re actually making sure the mode works by having special community members do beta on the changes.
Good. It’s about 4 months late, though. The overall response seems to be “Fine. Now don’t do this again” with a simmering resentment lacquered in a thin veneer of appreciation. And fans have a right to feel burned. SimCity “launched” back in March, and I use that term loosely, and a profoundly broken authentication system for its always-online component prevented players from even starting the game. You know, the game they paid full price for and claims to be multiplayer, which EA used to justify the online requirement. Except that SimCity 2013 isn’t really a multiplayer game. It was a paper-thin attempt to get the Holy Grail of DRM: always-online. After Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Diablo III, and the Xbox One unveiling, there isn’t a single instance of always-on DRM actually improving a game, or even working when it came out. In terms of SimCity, it stopped players from even enjoying it, causing a permanent backlash against always-online, and even causing Amazon to temporarily remove digital sales of the game from its website until the issue was fixed.
The inclusion of the offline mode also means that EA and Maxis (specifically Lucy Bradshaw) flatout lied to gamers about the necessity for the online components, claiming it was essential to running the game’s engine. Apparently, this is the exact opposite of the case, which Rock, Paper, Shotgun was quick to point out.
Let’s end on a good note. One of the best things about the Offline Mode becoming a reality is that community mods will be easier to distribute and implement, thereby thwarting the ridiculous nickle-and-dime micro DLC such as Amusement Parks, Airships and the Attraction Set. Crap. It seems I can’t end on a high note without pointing out a cynical, anti-consumer policy EA seems to thrive on. There’s just so many it’s hard not to. All joking aside, maybe this embarassment and the ongoing issues with Battlefield 4, a game I refuse to play until it is functional, have taught EA a very valuable and expensive lesson: build it right and they will come.