Why I Won’t Be Buying Sim City

Why I Won’t Be Buying Sim City

Maxis has always been one of my favourite developers. The Sims, Sim Ant, Sim Farm – All incredibly innovative games, (aside perhaps for their titles,) and each one of them holding a special place in my cruel, twisted heart. However, the announcement that the new Sim City would require an always-on internet connection resulted in me raising my arms and screaming ‘UBISOFT!’

Of course, I then remembered it was actually being published by EA, but my reaction still stands.

EA apparently live in a wonderful world where internet connections never falter. A place where ISPs provide a continual, uninterrupted high-speed broadband service to all their customers. A world straight from Tron, where programmes and users live in harmony amidst the free-flow of information.

EA may live in this world, but I certainly don’t.

I live in the real world, a world where my internet connection is inversely proportionate to the amount of rain falling outside my window. When it’s raining, I tend to stay inside and play games. When it’s raining, however, my internet connection becomes increasingly unreliable, and I can’t play games. It’s a Catch 22 situation Joseph Heller himself would be proud of.

Wind-Farm-Stage-B
Wind turbines like these are expected to last, on average, 25 years. That’s nearly 25 times longer than any EA game.

The reasoning behind the always-on connection was explained by Lucy Bradshaw in a statement on simcity.com.

“GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game—the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city. There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player’s local computer.”

I don’t claim to understand the technical aspects of GlassBox to even begin to comment on this, but speaking as a player, the result remains the same. EA and Maxis are asking me to pay full price for a game that I’ll only be able to play for an indeterminate time until they decide to pull the plug. Not only that, but they’re asking £45 for the standard edition.

This week, EA announced their latest server culling, with the deactivation of services for The Sims II, Madden and NHL, to name but a few. Some of these games are long in the tooth, but a number of them are less than two years old. My hard drive is filled with old games, some of them now almost twenty years old. My love for retro-gaming means that I will go back to them time and time again, ignoring the dated graphics and enjoying them for the fantastic experiences they are.

Will I be playing the new Sim City in ten years time? Given EA’s track record with their servers, chances are I won’t be playing it in two years time. As player populations slowly dwindle and EA’s eyes shift towards their next big release, how long will it take before the EA accountants start sniffing around the Sim City servers and asking if they could be put to better use elsewhere?

Meteor (1)
The apocalypse was conveniently averted by the well-timed crash of EA’s servers, much to everyone’s relief.

Games that require an always-online connection have a finite shelf life. They will never become ‘retro’, and we will never dig them out of a drawer to relive our old memories. When they die, they will be gone forever.

But of course, by then EA will have released Sim City XVI, so that’s alright then.

Isn’t it?

 

5 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Buying Sim City

  1. Totally agree with your reasons not to get it, though I probably will, just to see what it is like to play properly. Still fearful for the impact the always online will have on it.

  2. I agree with the majority of your post, I would however get your Internet connection checked out. I’ve had an uninterrupted connection for several years now. The only time I had a bad connection (at work) was weather related like yours – but it was because the man holes filled up with water flooding the control boxes. That was fixed and everything is dandy :) wouldn’t harm keeping a little log of when your connection is intermittent to see if you can find a pattern to pass onto your provider when you report a fault :) … Completely agree with you about *when will the pull the plug* it’s a bit daft the game *relying* on a constant connection!

  3. Have to say I’m absolutely delighted with the disaster the SimCity launch has become and also not surprised as I predicted it.

    Like you, even though I love the game, I refused to buy the newest incarnation as I won’t play any game that requires always-on internet. I live in Asia. There’s no such thing :)

    Great article.

  4. I’d love to say I told you so EA, but I never expected anything to go as badly as it actually did.

    It’s a shame, I just hope lessons are learned from this.

  5. I think Graciel’s comment sums up everything that is wrong with making games like this, not everyone around the world have constant internet connections and they are just unable to enjoy potentially great games because of the online requirements.

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