SimCity 2013: Too Big To Fail?

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.