Quite a change from EA’s original claims that SimCity required the always-online it was delivered with, isn’t it?
It has been a difficult time to work at EA. The company has been slammed for the huge number of issues with its launch of SimCity, and just recently a modder finally cracked SimCity sufficiently to run it offline, proving EA’s earlier claims that the game absolutely required the constant connection not only dubious, but provably false.
Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of Maxis, has now gone on the record after this embarrassing reveal by confirming that the game could indeed have had a single player game mode. The reason she gives that it does not? “But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision.”
Game designers, producers, developers, and everyone else who has anything to do with making video games, take this as a lesson. Yes, it is your game and it is your right to craft it into whatever your personal vision sees fit. It is, in fact, your responsibility to do exactly that, and I wholly support the idea.
People will still disagree with you vehemently if you intentionally limit your creation in functionality for the sake of your vision, and the decision will cost you both customers and in the limited currency of trust from your player base.
In the case of SimCity, specifically, this is illustrated even more clearly because the ability to create a sprawling single-player metropolis has been central to the series, like on the left. The lack of that ability is more than a design choice, it is a fundamental shift in basic concept that was obviously not made clear enough to the people looking to purchase the game.
By all accounts, SimCity is good. It looks good, I’ve watched people playing and enjoying it quite a bit. It may even be the SimCity of Maxis’s vision. None of that makes it the game the players or fans of the series wanted, and that’s fine… as long as Maxis and EA are ready to hear the complaints from disappointed gamers.