After nearly a year of claiming it was impossible, Maxis has revealed today in a blog post that an official offline mode will be coming to SimCity. This new offline mode will come with Update 10, which will be tested by some of SimCity’s hardcore players, called Devtesters. This update and new mode, called Single Player mode, will be free. All single player game files will now be stored locally, so no more connecting to EA servers, and potentially losing data when those are down.
Maxis General Manager Patrick Buechner wrote the blog, telling gamers “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, until then… testing, testing and more testing.”
Buechner continued, explaining that the main reason for the release of an offline mode was to not compromise the online version of SimCity now that official mods are getting released. “They can now make modifications to the game and its components without compromising the integrity of the Online game. Modding is a big part of our studio’s legacy and we’re excited to see what you guys create.”
EA and Maxis defended SimCity’s lack of offline mode for over a year. Maxis Senior Vice President Lucy Bradshaw wrote a blog post, defending the online policy. She said the online nature of game, including working with other cities in your region, is what required the game to use cloud computing and storage. Bradshaw also spoke with Polygon, saying that the sheer amount of calculations that the game required was what required the online connection. Many game sites, including Kotaku, found that SimCity ran just fine offline, but only stopped working when the game seemingly needed to “check in” with the EA servers. Adding further cracks to Maxis’ story was an anonymous developer from Maxis telling Rock, Paper, Shotgun that the servers only did typical server tasks like storing date, and that they were not needed.
This reporter’s opinion: This is the right move by EA and Maxis, but I think it may be too little, too late. I haven’t played the new SimCity specifically because of the online requirement, so I cannot speak to how it runs on EA’s servers. This move, however, screams of 11th hour desperation on the part of EA and Maxis. It is clear that the game was not nearly as successful as they hoped, and potentially damaged the Maxis brand. This move will sedate some gamers, but it is just a blatant attempt to try to get back on gamers good sides. Will it work? I highly doubt it. You don’t go for a year defending how it had to work one way, and then turn it around and not expect even more backlash. I also would not be surprised to see a headline six months down the road, saying “EA to shut down SimCity servers”. I’ll be disgusted when I do see it though.
by, Bobby Marquardt