It Would Take ‘Significant Engineering’ To Make SimCity A Singleplayer Game

It Would Take ‘Significant Engineering’ To Make SimCity A Singleplayer Game

Overnight (Australian time), Lucy Bradshaw, the general manager of SimCity maker Maxis, took over the studio’s official account to answer questions from gamers who, four days after the game’s release, are still unable to play the thing they purchased. Beforehand, she’s also previewed an answer to the question: Why can’t this game simply be played offline?

The question has been answered before, but Bradshaw reiterated the reason to Polygon: “With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud,” she said. “It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team.”

In an internal memo sent to Maxis employees, and made public last week, Bradshaw claimed that while “thousands of players across the world are playing and having a good experience,” many others were unable to connect to the game, making “the rollout in North America has been challenging.” She promised Maxis would be adding capacity to its SimCity cadre of servers and stabilizing the existing ones. “We’re working as hard as possible to make sure everyone gets to experience the amazing game we built in SimCity,” she wrote. SimCity as of publication time, is still crippled for most who want to play it.


  • I’m not saying people aren’t having problems however it’s been fine for me for the last three days. It’s sad that such a great game is getting trashed so hard IMO. Even worse that EA seems to be letting Maxis take the brunt of the abuse event though it’s pretty much guaranteed EA were the ones to push for always online. Hopefully this doesn’t damage Maxis too much as they’re brilliant devs with some of the best IPs out there.

    • Maxis seem to be owning up to the always online thing. From the tweet feed:
      Derek Donovan
      @simcity #asklucy I don’t blame your team, you made a really good game, it was just EA’s bad business practices that ruined the game.

      @derekdonovan Hey, this is on Maxis. EA does not force design upon us. We own it, we are working 24/7 to fix it, and we are making progress

      Would be nice to know some more though.

      • Interesting… I’ve read so many articles about EA enforcing it’s ideas surrounding design that I just came to the assumption, possibly incorrectly. I certainly hope EA isn’t pressuring Maxis to take the blame however I highly doubt it. It actually makes a bit more sense if it was Maxis’s choice and design (In regards to always online) as it’s something to my knowledge they’ve never done before therefor the flawed launch makes a little bit more sense.

        Also thanks for that! Good food for thought!

      • Not to be…. overly cynical and/or paranoid about these things, but do you really think they’d throw their publisher under the bus? Really?

        Hey guys, we really didn’t want to make this game always-online, but EA forced us to do it. I can see that going down a treat with their paymasters.

        Bioware took all the heat for DA 2, and just about anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows it was a rush job, but they didn’t even look like they would finger EA. So… yeah..

        • If that were the case, I think Maxis would’ve just ignored the tweet instead of replying and taking the blame. Or at the least they would’ve replied with something about how they value our opinions and blah de blah.

      • I dunno. Isn’t that exactly what they’d say if EA did force it on them? I have little doubt Maxis wanted to make an online heavy game, it’s the natural direction for the franchise, but I still suspect EA were the ones who made the choice to implement it in a way where it acts like hostile DRM. At the very least this is EA’s fault for not having Origin/the SimCity servers up to the task.
        Even without EA’s own first-hand experience in MMO launching, even without Diablo III’s similar problems, EA are switched on enough to understand the realities of this sort launching a game with this sort of system. It seems highly likely that their intention was to skimp on setup costs and launch messy (although obviously not this messy) in order to maximise long term profits.

        If they want to go down this deceptive ‘it’s not DRM, it just so happens our features require an always on internet connection and sign-in’ route they could at least have the common courtesy to not cut corners. If they had of launched it properly odds are complaints would be limited to the smaller group of people who hate DRM regardless of if it works or not.

        Short version, if Maxis did insist on doing it this way EA should have either said ok and given them the appropriate level of launch support for that sort of game or said no and forced them to make it on a more traditional model.

    • Yeah, that was my first thought, too. “It would take significant work? Then do it. I’m sure we’ll all be very impressed with how hard your guys have to work to bypass that DRM.”

  • I’m sure it would require a lot less than the engineering required to make a game server architecture which is both scalable and easily deployable to the cloud. Which they failed to do anyway.

  • If you disconnect your internet whilst playing it works flawlessly for precisely 10 minutes, then the DRM kicks you off.

  • It would take ‘significant enginneering’?? So? If you want to show you care about customer satisfaction, get to it. Ultimately, a brand is only as viable as the faith consumers put into it. If the customer feels aggrived, shouldn’t you be doing something to legitimately address their concerns of your faulty product, rather than immediately yelling “no refunds” the day after launch??

  • It can’t be played offline? It’s going to be very embarrassing for Maxis then when some cracking groups get it working with a 2mb .exe replacement file.

  • By the time they’ve added the capacity, there will have been players who have already returned their copy and/or just won’t play it again. So they’re still up the creek without a paddle, only this time it’s more expensive.


  • I call bullshit – they said they were adding 3 (count them 3!) servers to address the load issues. They must be some kind of quantum supercomputers if they’re doing “significant calculations” for hundreds of thousands of players that their own high-end gaming rigs can’t do for themselves.

    • EA’s thought process:
      “We won’t put enough servers to handle launch load cause it will cost money.
      People will get upset at the long queues, so they’ll decide not to queue anymore.
      Server load drops as less people play the game.

      Now we no longer need those new servers! Win!”

  • Well, look on the bright side… at least this whole debacle has made people forget about how badly Gearbox screwed up with Aliens Colonial Marines.

  • 2-5 years from now these servers will be shut down. Ordinarily I follow the cracking scene for games, especially online games but I have not bothered with this one…

    My not entirely educated point is as follows; If this game REQUIRES server access to be useful in any way and it is not possible to run private servers, who in there right mind would pay for this ‘game’. I sincerely hope that everyone who purchased this realizes they payed a one off fee for a service that can surely be closed down at any time, at the service providers discretion.

    I loved the old sims, but I’m not comfortable paying for a hard copy of a game that will literally be a drink coaster in a couple years. Final Fantasy XIV burned me badly enough, and yes, it truly is a drink coaster now.

  • No it wouldn’t!! just bundle the server in the game, run it on the local PC and then make the ‘client’ point to it rather than the internet! it would take next to no work!! it wouldn’t be as efficient as designing it from the ground up to be single player, but it would work. would break the DRM tho…

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