It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Maxis. Ire from SimCity players ebbed a bit when the game’s servers caught up (for the most part) with consumer demand and downtime and disconnections abated. Since then, anger has shifted to the root of the problem: SimCity’s need to always be online.
Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw responded to players who question the game’s need for constant internet access, those who berate it as thin justification for stricter anti-piracy measures.
“It didn’t come down as an order from corporate and it isn’t a clandestine strategy to control players,” Bradshaw wrote. “It’s fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity. From the ground up, we designed this game with multiplayer in mind–using new technology to realize a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world.”
She listed the game’s features which require constant connection with servers: interactions between cities, gifts between players, a reactive market, worldwide goals, and regionwide Great Works, to name a few. All of the former are multiplayer aspects.
“The game we launched is only the beginning for us–it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO,” Bradshaw concluded. “So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the ‘single city in isolation’ that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans–people who love the original SimCity–who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality.”
Bradshaw seemed to acknowledge what modders have already demonstrated–the core experience of building a city can function offline with minor changes to the game. She told Polygon last week that significant essential calculations offloaded to SimCity’s server make an offline mode impractical. But it’s simpler than that:
Maxis’ vision does not include an offline mode, and it’s not going to make one.