The SimCity "Ha Ha!" screen

The SimCity “Ha Ha!” screen

I’m pretty sure that, sitting on my old Mac SE/30 in the living room, is an old copy of the first SimCity. Or if not on the hard drive, on a floppy drive somewhere. Assuming I could find it, and the computer could still read it, that I could play that original SimCity and have as much fun as I wanted. I could type in “FUNDS” if I got in a bind and get some extra money. I could save my game and then have Godzilla stomp it to rubble, then restore it and all these little SimCity people would be going “Whaaaa? I just had a feeling that we were all stomped to rubble… Oh well!”

I could send you a copy of my city, and you could run it, we could run it together, see how it goes. You could send yours back.

That was _1989_. That was before the public internet.

Fast forward to the 21st century. We got SimCity 4 back in 2003. It was a huge improvement on the previous versions in almost every way. HUGE cities. Could connect to OTHER cities. Could play cops and robbers in real time, racing around your city. Zoom in really close, zoom out really far. I used to make, like, HUGE MOUNTAINS in the middle of my city, and then build stuff on top of the mountain to see if the little sims would go there.

Given ten MORE years, what kind of amazing advances would come?

I bought SimCity 2013 today. I haven’t played. I’ve TRIED to play it. But can’t. Why?

Because it’s all online. So in the launch day crush, EA servers are swamped and I can’t get into the game. Well, I did get in once, but while placing a sewer outflow pipe, the game hung and I eventually had to kill it from the Windows task manager. When I got back, my city was gone and the game wanted me to do the tutorial again.

I have plenty of friends who play; couldn’t see them in the game. Couldn’t join their private region.

So, let’s re-iterate the last ten years of advances.

First, you will not be able to play SimCity 2013 in ten years. Maybe five… maybe. That’s about how long EA keeps the servers for their other online games running. So, enjoy the game now, all your cities and stuff are going away. Can’t save them to floppy and play it again in twenty years.

Can’t back up your game. Can’t experiment. Can’t type “FUNDS”. Cities are pretty small because that’s all multiplayer can handle.

Don’t get me wrong — the multiplayer, when it begins to work reliably at some point, could be fun. You can trade with nearby cities, don’t have to cover everything yourself. Especially handy if all your neighbor cities are your cities, too. You can do that — build up a region made of specialized cities. That’s what EA wants to happen.

And then, in a couple years, they want you to buy the next SimCity, and a couple years after that, they shut down the servers and all your SimCity 3 work is gone forever.

So, you head to the store and pay $60 to get your own copy of SimCity 3 on disk, and what do you get for your money?

Well, pretty much nothing. You have to have an account on their Origin game portal, which must be running while you run the game. Your first time logging in, the servers will download the entire game again for you. You don’t own the cities, everything is online, your disk is about as worthwhile as an AOL Online disk.

Anyway. SimCity 2013. Great game. Totally a must buy. If you don’t have a computer, you should get a computer and a high speed internet connection and a really good graphics card, just to play the game. A++++++. Would purchase again.

Didn’t want to end on a down note.

14 Responses to “SimCity 2013: Too Big To Fail?”
  1. I hadn’t even considered the whole “EA dumps their server support in a few years” aspect of the game, the Origin part being enough to stall me indefinitely.

    It just makes me want utter that groaning sound that Lurch used to make on The Addams Family.

  2. Will says:

    There there…

    It will all be better next week.

  3. Tipa says:

    And in four-five years, when they shut down the servers forever?

  4. Will says:

    Seems paranoid. EA has a lot to lose in a move like that, and even Ubisoft has been good about patching out DRM after a while.

    Also with the exception of some pure multiplayer/browser/MMO games I can’t think of a single case of that happening. Can you?

  5. TheeNickster says:

    EA has been pretty quick to shut down the servers for all their sports franchises. Want an online game of Madden 2k9? Tough!!!

    Seriously, this is why EA’s stock is tanking so hard. They should totally fire that Riccitiello guy and hire me..

  6. Played any online Neverwinter Nights lately Will? Tried Age of Empires: Age of Kings over the internet with the official connection service? Happens all the time. Online only games… and this SimCity is clearly online only… go away.

  7. Stropp says:

    Just look at EAs cost cutting over the last couple of years. Employees sacked, studios shut down.

    It’s not hard to believe that the developers of SimCity will not be at EA/Maxis in five years. So when EA decides to shut down the servers, who will be left with enough of an understanding of the code to patch out the online only component. Don’t forget this isn’t just a simple server check, but will require all the save game and multiplayer interactivity to be reimplemented in the client.

    Will, do you really think EA will sanction that expense?

  8. Tipa says:

    @Will EA has shut down a lot of online games. They shut down the Maddens after a couple of years; less popular games even faster. I think SimCity will be pretty popular, but there is an expiration date past which this version of the game will never be able to be played again by anyone.

  9. Will says:

    Never played Age of Kings myself, but it took me about 2 minutes to find online communities still playing an almost 14 year old game. Which is besides the point anyways because I was never talking about multi-player match making services.

    This all started with concerns that the single player had an expiration date. And for all the internet rage and fear on the subject I still haven’t heard an example of the community losing a single player game. It’s like everyone expects EA to drop the game the second sales slow. I just don’t see it.

    On a personnal note, I just shut down Diablo 3 when I started writing this. I avoided D3 at launch, picked up a week in and I’ve been having a great time ever since. I’ll be playing it for years. I also have Diablo 2 on my battlenet account in case I get nostalgic.

    Sim City is taking all the same crap from the blogosphere and it’s all just as silly. I don’t like launch day traffic so I’m not playing on launch day. I’m not worried, and I don’t get why anyone else is.

  10. Brian Inman says:

    After raising hell on your post on G+ today the karma came and bit me big time. My second night on was a nightmare the whole six hours or so I was on. I ended up writing a rant post on my blog myself because it really pissed me off.

  11. Tipa says:

    All I really wanted was an offline, single player mode. The multiplayer looks cool, but why isn’t it optional?

    Even Diablo 3 is coming out with an offline, single player mode….. for consoles.

  12. pasmith says:

    ALT-W is the equivalent of Funds, or so I’ve read. Only works in sandbox mode.

  13. Tipa says:

    Good to know, Pete — thanks!

  14. Patrick says:

    You forgot to mention that when the company needs to “patch the servers” you are literally LOCKED OUT, of a game you paid good money for.

    I can only play at certain times and apparently my demographic doesn’t deserve to play the game.

    What a fucking crock of shit this game is. They patch the servers 3 days after launch and it will take aprox. 10 hours.

    WHAT A CROCK.

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