It looks like publisher Electronic Arts and developer Maxis are tacitly admitting one of the biggest mistakes they made with SimCity.
EA and developer Maxis revealed today that it will release an offline mode for SimCity, the city-planning and management simulation. It currently requires a connection to a server that hosts some of the game’s data. The Internet-free feature is coming soon as a free download in the next update.
“SimCity offline is coming,” Maxis Emeryville studio general manager Patrick Buechner wrote on the SimCity blog. “I’ve wanted to say those words for quite some time.”
This new single-player mode will enable players to save and load whenever they feel like it, no online connection required. We’ve reached out to EA to determine if this new mode will expand the size of cities since players cannot rely on other players to trade with. We’ll update this story with the company’s response.
“We are in the late phases of wrapping up [the single-player mode's] 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,” said Buechner.
The developer is currently testing the offline mode with a small group of fans, and Maxis promised it would provide more details on the single-player feature in the near future.
When EA and Maxis first launched SimCity in March, the sim went through weeks of connection errors due to high demand on the servers. After the publisher added additional online capacity, many gamers expressed disappointment at the severely limited city sizes and the fact that it forced players to work together online, which rarely functioned well since the system would break down if a few players in a region stopped playing regularly.
Following the issues with the game, EA senior vice president (then general manager of Maxis) Lucy Bradshaw explained that while they could have made SimCity offline, they didn’t want to.
“We rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision,” wrote Bradshaw. “We did not focus on the single city in isolation that we have deliever in past SimCities.”
Despite EA’s insistence that the game had to connect online to perform calculations that make the game work, a mod creator was able to make the game work offline without any issues.