Many people thought that the decision to require an internet connect in order to play SimCity was done so in an effort to avoid piracy, and it does, but apparently there was another reason as well. According to Jason Haber, Maxis employee and producer on SimCity, the game has been built from the ground up to support multiplayer. While it seems like a happy coincidence, Haber assured PC Gamer that the decision was made early in the process for the sake of design and really has nothing at all do to with any anti piracy measures. I was a bit skeptical when I heard this, but apparently they have all sorts of design features that necessitate players to be logged in.
According to Haber, players will be able to interact with other players, “Cities don’t exist in bubbles in the real world. The choices that one city make affect other cities. The choices that other cities make influence your city.” Haber sites the ability of existing players to help newer players develop their cities, “If you’ve started new but have a bunch of people who have been playing it for a while, you could come in, share resources, and get started really quickly.” Apparently SimCity will be less like its predecessors with each player controlling an isolated city or cities and more like a giant planet, where everyone’s city is part of a larger system.
This all seems to mesh with what we’ve heard about the game so far; this reboot is about cause and effect. Each of the player’s choices from what buildings they create, to how many, to how they place them all adds up to how their city behaves. It makes sense that Maxis has taken things a step further to allow these cities to influence those of other players on some level. Still though, forcing players to log in does have the happy coincidence of also helping keep the pirates at bay, something EA and the team at Maxis are probably happy about as well.
Maxis hopes that this system will allow players the opportunity to challenge themselves as well. Haber describes how players will have the freedom to build any type of city they like, “You could have a city that’s powered by all windmills and play the game like that.”
So far SimCity does look like a true-blue reboot. While logging in to play alone might seem unfair to some, if it’s successful I would imagine that other companies will experiment with similar systems.