I’ve watched the launch of the new SimCity game over the last week with a strange feeling of both amazement and utter despair. It’s been like a massive, exploding car crash that I’ve strangely enjoyed watching get worse and worse. The words “total failure” don’t quite seem to cut it, but adding superlatives would just needlessly inflate my wordcount.
I’ve grown up with SimCity, playing it on my venerable SNES to countless different PC systems. Interestingly, I played the different versions in a funny order, each game enticing me to see the gameplay differences in a different or earlier version. Nonetheless, I’ve lost countless hours to SimCity, and it’s a game that quite deservedly is very close to my heart.
Imagine last year when I heard about the first new game in the series proper for ten years. My heart skipped a beat. Then I read the details, to which my heart sank.
“Always on multiplayer”… “DRM”… “Origin”… no, this couldn’t be!
As a SimCity player for years, this wasn’t what I wanted at all. It was refreshing also to see many other longtime fans as disappointed at the choices made, however, there was always a loathing feeling that our complaints would fall on deaf ears. Which is exactly what happened.
The launch last week has exemplified what we all feared – that our game will be literally unplayable if there’s any server issues. What makes it worse is that SimCity is a game that doesn’t need multiplayer at all. A social, connected multiplayer region experience is probably at the bottom of all fan wishlists, but it’s what we got, at the expense of city size and accessibility.
I’ve not played the new SimCity, and have no intention to. DRM/multiplayer aside, I’m quite unimpressed with several game design choices – small city size, dead space between regions, no local saves, and “plugging in” to an arbitrary highway connection to name but a few. The game however looks extremely nice graphically and the simulation engine intriguing, but… it just seems to fall flat once you dig in. Essentially as it stands, it’s a £40 Facebook game.
Thinking about how SimCity has failed in such a spectacular way is upsetting, and the ramifications and damage done to the brand are even more so. Worse still is that Maxis/EA are refusing to accept that the online-only model has just proved its fallibility.
But screw that, for there’s a bigger task at hand here. Fairview needs me!