Maxis: SimCity’s Always Online Req Not About Piracy

By Nathan Grayson on April 20th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

A very, very early prototype of Mass Effect's Paragon/Renegade system.
You’ve probably heard that SimCity will come tethered to a pesky always online requirement. You might have heard that we don’t like it very much. But then – like an absentee father – it’s really only an absolute necessity on start up, so things could be worse. Still, though, I like playing games when I’m thousands of feet in the air, in the middle of nowhere, or punching my incredibly spotty router for yet another hour of downtime.  “Why,” I’m instead forced to bellow at SimCity, slumping to my knees in defeat. “Why can’t I play you in a car, on a tree, in a box, or with a fox?” “Piracy!” replies the roving Internet peanut gallery. Maxis, however, claims it’s prepared to prove everyone wrong.

Maxis producer Jason Haber explained his company’s side of the story during a chat with Eurogamer.

“From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game. I’m not surprised we’re getting some reaction like this. But I think once people see it in action – and at E3 we’re really looking forward to showing people multiplayer and how it works – hopefully that will show them why it’s such a great feature and it’s totally worth having.”

“The thing that’s important for people to know is it really was driven by us as the dev team. We feel it’s a core feature to the game. It really makes the game richer. People have their conspiracy theories over why we’re doing it. But really, it’s honest that the dev team feels like it really does add a lot to the game, and it’s totally worth doing for that.”

One such “conspiracy theory” is, of course, piracy prevention, which Haber flat-out denied as a motivation. But with these vaunted social features largely under wraps – beyond, say, helping a friend put out a fire – prospective players can only speculate.

Which, if you ask me, seems like kind of a silly choice on Maxis’ part. I mean, the developer wasn’t – to my knowledge – living deep beneath the earth’s crust where even 3G fears to tread when Blizzard announced Diablo III’s always online requirement. Haber and co knew what they were getting themselves into. They could have prepared. They could have blown the doors off their excruciating GDC presentation with some mind-blowing, game-changing multiplayer feature. But instead, they’re asking us to take it mostly on good faith for the time being. So yes, we’re going to be skeptical and petition for a true single-player mode, because there is very little proof here. Just lots and lots of meaningless, fat-laden pudding.

Moreover, EA doesn’t have the best reputation for keeping game servers online in the long-term. Yes, SimCity is a bigger brand than, say, The Saboteur, but what happens when/if a sequel springs up? What if Maxis tangles up the series’ DNA or loads it down with microtransactions or something, and fans still prefer the previous game? Fingers crossed for some sort of offline-focused patch, but again, EA hasn’t exactly set the best precedent. At this point, I don’t think there’s a multiplayer feature in the world that could douse these concerns, but who knows? Maybe, in a couple months, Maxis will make me eat my words. If that’s the case, I hope they at least taste like alphabet soup – and not warm, bitter regret.

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144 Comments »

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  1. pakoito says:

    PC piracy will kill this game, because that is the only reason it will sell so few copies. No but seriously, the f2p/zynga model is making even small publisher to bathe on money so I guess we are the wrong ones.

    • mmalove says:

      While the idea of multiplayer in a city builder is intriguing (think of the lengths dwarf fortress fans go through to make the game multiplayer, by passing around saves and calling it a succession game) – enforcing it is plain stupid.

    • FatalTerror says:

      Piracy will then be the answer not for the question of “why” we have to play it that (always online) way, but the answer to “how” we can play it the way we want (offline).

  2. Vinraith says:

    Still, though, I like playing games when I’m thousands of feet in the air, in the middle of nowhere, or punching my incredibly spotty router for yet another hour of downtime.

    I’m less concerned about that stuff than I am being able to play the game when EA’s servers are down, and when EA discontinues the validation servers in a few years. This is the major problem with online activation and always-online requirements, the status of the servers is completely beyond our control. You can have the most stable, high-speed internet connection in the world and still be locked out of the game you legitimately purchased.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes, this.

    • Kaira- says:

      Yup, excactly this. On MMOs I can understand the always-online requirements and so, but game like this… no way. No. Especially with EAs track record.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      So many games are just going to vanish. What percentage will still be active in 5, 10, 20 years?

      Twenty years may seem like a long time, but there are so many wonderful games from the late 80s / early 90s. How much poorer would the gaming world be if those influences were no longer available?

      • circadianwolf says:

        Most of them, since the pirates will crack them and keep copies available. Has everybody forgotten about Home of the Underdogs and similar “abandonware” sites?

        Honestly, that’s why I’m comfortable with having so many games on Steam et al.–I know if anything happens to my games, there’s pirated copies out there I can download to replace them.

        • Shuck says:

          The problem is that “designed from the ground up as multiplayer” usually means that some portion of the game is running on the server. You can’t just “crack” it because you don’t actually have access to all the code. At best someone writes some new code that’s an approximation of how they think the game works on the server and adds that to the client, but it’ll never be the same unless someone at the development company leaks code. So you’ll not be able to archive the game, you’ll at best be archiving a fan re-make of the game.

          • tentacle says:

            So true. We’re way too complacent about these things because old games and platforms have been ridiculously easy to crack and emulate – until now. Those days are at an end, and the landscape will be very very different in just a few years. Many many games we love WILL be lost as even primarily single-player games become more and more “online” and thus obsolete as soon as the server hosting it is no longer profitable enough.

          • Skabooga says:

            This is where the greyhat hackers come in.

          • Consumatopia says:

            For this reason I would rather they just said that it was because of piracy. That way, when they shut the server down years from now, they could just release a patch that makes the game work offline.

            But, yeah, you’re right, we’re in trouble. Networked games, unlike literature, films, musical compositions and recordings, television, and offline games, are a form of mass media that we won’t be able to preserve. When the future is looking back at games of our era, they’ll be able to dig up old websites about people talking about games, but they won’t be able to play the games themselves. Thus, MMOs will be remembered by their flame wars.

    • Cooper says:

      Recently at Joystiq the creative director mentioned people still play SimCity 4, ten years later:
      http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/28/simcity-will-not-support-mods-at-launch/

      “Social” (multiplayer) communities do not always last very long. There is no guarantee there will be enough people playing SimCity5 in three (let alone 10) years time for this aspect to be working well as ‘core gameplay’

      The issue is then not just about server uptime. If this aspect is so core to the game, then Maxis are limiting the games longevity to however long there remains a significant onlinhe playerbase…

      • Flavioli says:

        Maybe this is exactly what they want. Why would you buy SimCity6 when you are still busy playing SimCity5?

    • shizamon says:

      Exactly, this is just a rental, as is Diablo III.

      • Shivoa says:

        Yep, interested in the game(s) (both mentioned), not so interested there is nothing else to do with my gaming time so I’ll avoid unless I can play it solo without relying on EA/Blizzard to have their servers up and an unbroken path between them and me.

        Which is a real shame; I suspect I would enjoy the product, I very much enjoy giving my money to people who make games in exchange for those games, a weird auth system (if you only need to be connected at launch, how is this a ‘deeply connected online experience requires it’ thing? And can none of the game designers work out how an offline mode might work, because I think they might be lying if they claim not to) is preventing me from concluding that transaction.

      • Lagwolf says:

        Exactly… EA do not want you to own the game but rent the rights to it. IMO that is fine but then the price should reflect that arrangement and thus be cheaper. If I cannot play a game when I want where I want then it is not mine.

      • Bradeh says:

        You can rent PC games? What is this voodoo?

      • Toberoth says:

        Where do you rent PC games from?

  3. Koozer says:

    You know what’s hard? Explaining Alphabetti Spaghetti on toast to a Czech.

    • Phantoon says:

      I’m not Czech and I don’t understand either. Please explain.

    • Czechton says:

      Meh, I understood.

    • svick says:

      If you want to try again, I am Czech, I have no idea what Alphabetti Spagetti on toast is and I am willing to try to understand.

      • lordcooper says:

        It’s little bits of spaghetti shaped like letters and sold tinned, with a weak tomato sauce. Then you warm it up and put it on toast, which is sliced bread that has been heated up a bit so that it gets crispy.

  4. Phantoon says:

    It’s not Maxis. It’s the husk of Maxis with EA magics that reanimate it. Just like there is no Westwood or Bullfrog anymore. Just like the head of Bioware said that his company is EA.

    And EA asking people to take things on faith. Well, they can try that, sure. But I’m sure even their fans will remember the last time they got burned. EA needs to put something concrete out first.

    • MattM says:

      I have faith. I have faith that the online servers will be plagued with problems. I have faith that when you contact tech support they will not know about the server crash and instead will lead you through hours of pointless reinstall and firewall configs. I also have faith that the online elements won’t involve interesting gameplay only possible with multiple players. Instead it will be composed of elements that could have been completely implemented in SP. Furthermore the online bonuses will either be unbalancingly good or necessary to avoid a tedious grind.

  5. Dhatz says:

    only a very limited buch will believe maxis.

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      bglamb says:

      But, strangely, lots believe Blizzard.

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        drewski says:

        I’m usually the first to put the boot to Blizzard, but given they have a track record of running a free multiplayer service for their players over a decade after the game has been released, and EA have a record of turning servers off after a year or so, it’s not difficult to see why there’s more trust for Blizzard.

  6. QualityJeverage says:

    “You have to play the game our way, and the only reason we’re giving you is that we think it’s the best way.”

    F*** you, sir. At the end of the day, the player has fewer ways to play the game, and in some cases can’t play the game at all. There’s no excuse for that.

    • briktal says:

      That’s true for almost every game. It’s just that sometimes players still manage to find a better way to play.

      • QualityJeverage says:

        Of course every game limits the number of ways the player can play in some way, if we’re speaking very broadly and getting weirdly philosophical.

        The point here is that it’s happening, and we haven’t been given a good reason other than “Trust us” when I don’t think any well-informed gamer would be willing to do that.

  7. NathanH says:

    So, it’s all about the multiplayer component, which is why I only need to be online when I start the game? So if my connection disappears immediately after starting the game, Maxis will magically beam the multiplayer component into my computer using Space Magic? I doubt it.

    Amusingly, if they were going with Always Always On DRM, then they’d be able to use this argument. But they’re not, so they can’t.

    • Zanchito says:

      But I DON’T WANT multiplayer on my sim!! I like my games single player, thank you very much, EA/Blizzard!

    • wccrawford says:

      I was just coming to post this. It’s idiotic to think that playing offline after an online check has nothing to do with piracy, and has to do with multiplayer somehow.

      Here’s a pro-tip, EA: Playing singleplayer has absolutely nothing to do with multiplayer.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I’m almost certain this will be to do with the EA’s new everything everywhere initiative. You’ll have to log in so it syncs everything up.

      • NathanH says:

        Wouldn’t that need me to be online when I stop playing as well, otherwise everything will go weird?

    • Consumatopia says:

      Maybe there’s some statistics the game downloads every startup that effect your session–like if there’s an unusually high number of players that day, your city will look extra busy or hold some kind of festival or something.

      Not very compelling, no, but if your job is to find some sort of gameplay excuse for a piracy check then you’ll think of something.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    News just in from RPS, the new Sim City targeting PCs but not fox-boxes! An online petition is expected to magically fix this oversight some time in the coming weeks.

  9. WickedCobra03 says:

    I still don’t want it connected all the time. Sim City for me has always been an alone game for me. And great if I could connect myself to a region when I want to, or have an online portion, but as long as its “always-online”, I foresee myself having just about no interest in this game.

    Like people have said before, its only time before EA takes these servers down, and seeing that I am still playing Sim City 2000 at times, I really don’t want to have to rely on EA who basically shut down their servers after 18 months (UFC game, for example) just because they want to get people to buy their new game.

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    Surlywombat says:

    I’m sure they did this because the online multiplayer aspects of Cities XL went so well.

  11. Malk_Content says:

    Don’t really understand how his reasoning requires us to be online at start up. I mean if we can go offline immediately afterwards and ignore the multiplayer features, how does being online in the first place help? Unless of course it updates your game world on start up with things like market prices and -pollution based on other players game since the last time they logged in then I’ve got to say that is also dumb.

  12. eaprivacypolicy says:

    EA does not trust you; do not trust EA.

    • smg77 says:

      Exactly. If I already wasn’t going buy this because of Origin then I wouldn’t buy it because of this online requirement.

  13. LMN8R says:

    Considering the fact that they specifically talked about the game being designed with asynchronous multiplayer in mind, I cannot believe that they’re still trying to pretend like this is anything but a DRM scheme.

    http://www.shacknews.com/article/72841/simcity-to-support-play-anywhere-online-design

  14. Blackcompany says:

    Also on Faith: The next Bethesda RPG will release with zero bugs, need no patches, be perfectly stable and focused on PC.

    Oh, and it will also actually be an RPG.

    Yep. We should take things on faith from publishers and their subsidiaries/in-house devs all the time. Really.

    • Highstorm says:

      You certainly do like to mention Bethesda and/or Skyrim in like, every article ever. It’s interesting.

      • TCM says:

        THIS IS POPULAR SO I HATE IT, AND WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW I HATE IT, I WILL SHOUT MY HATE FROM THE ROOFTOPS, SO MUCH HATE, CAN YOU FEEL MY HATE

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          jrodman says:

          It’s important to keep balance in this world. So if almost everyone loves something and only you hate it, you have to make enough hate to balance out the love everyone else has.

          This is the way of peace and tranquility.

  15. Dowson says:

    Even if the online feature is amazing and awesome, I still don’t see why the option for Offline play couldn’t exist.

    Demons Souls has very good online integration that is a major selling point, but if I’m offline it doesn’t tell me to sod off and get an internet connection, it just lets me play. Its me who’s losing out on the online features.

    You can justify a game being designed around online, but you can not justify a game not being available offline.
    Unless its an MMO of course.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      I’d much rather play, say WoW, if there was no one else on it.

  16. dieffenbachj says:

    Here is the fact of the matter:

    There is no feature that requires you to log on for that they cannot create an offline version of. I imagine the features they’re going to present will be things like market values, trade, and so on. Well, all of those things can be simulated offline. Market values can be saved into a *.cfg file. Trade can be with a gneeric computer “SimNation”, like it has been for the last several editions of this game.

    There is literally no feature they can present which they haven’t already shown us it’s possible to do offline.

    They’ve actually worked themselves into a corner with this announcement. It’s funny in a way. When we said “You’re doing this because of piracy!”, well, that’s actually a legitimate reason. Not VERY legitimate, and it’s debatable whether it’s effective or not, but there’s legitimacy to protecting your copyrighted materials. But now they’ve said “Nope, we’re not doing this for DRM reasons” so all of their validity just flew out the window. Now we get to say “You’re NOT doing this for piracy, so, give us offline mode!”

    Incidentally, there was one other game I can think of similar to this. It was a single-player game, with the ability to connect to huge quantities of game data online, but if you didn’t want to do that you could just do it offline with a smaller, on-the-disk quantity of game data. I think that game was Spore. Who made Spore again?

    Oh right, Maxis.

    …so, right, then. Maxis created ANOTHER single-player-online-connected game, and THAT one was able to be played in an offline mode. But this one is different, because… … …

    … hmm. Because they’re full of shit.

    • Brun says:

      Because Diablo III is making it “okay” for single-player games to be always online.

      • Baktosh says:

        D3 needs always on because loot decisions have to be made on the server because of the real money AH. Granted, they could have put in an offline mode with loot that couldn’t be sold on the RMAH, but then people would complain about that while Blizzard would open up an exploit path.

        Sim City doesn’t need always-on because there’s no real money at stake if it’s exploited. It’s anti-piracy plain and simple.

        • Brun says:

          As I state below, the always-online in Diablo 3 is there to make the RMAH work. Not to protect it. The microtransaction model stops working if the microtransactions aren’t always an option hanging over the heads of players.

          • Baktosh says:

            Have you even played the D3 beta? The AH is far from prominently featured, it’s certainly not “always an option hanging over the heads of players”. Comparing the RMAH in D3 to anything Zynga is not a remotely valid comparison.

          • Brun says:

            I have played the beta. But there’s no reason that they couldn’t have done exactly what you said – make a completely isolated offline mode that only includes single player. Offline characters, loot, etc. cannot be used, converted, transferred or otherwise “brought online.” Online character creation is like creating a character on an MMO – only available to play online.

            There’s no (technical) reason they could not have done that. So why did they? Because they know that a significant portion of their playerbase would never even use the online mode. And that cuts into their potential RMAH market.

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            jrodman says:

            Brun: While I agree with you generally, making the game work both ways (online and off) would take some additional work while developing. So there’s that reason, for whatever it’s worth.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I don’t mind a game-as-a-service, always-online model.

      In an MMO.

      In my single player games, however, I feel you have two choices:

      1. Always online, wherein I play for free or a monthly sub, as long as I feel like taking advantage of online features and playing.

      2. Sell me the game and let me download it. Now, go away. I have my game and you have your money and never again do we need communicate with one another. Period.

      Bottom line: Not going to pay full price to “rent” a game until you feel the server population declines sufficiently to screw over the remaining renters.

  17. Kuipo says:

    First of all, good article for essentially calling their bluff and pointing out that they have almost no merit to stand on and asking us to just take their word for it about this is crap. I’m glad you guys aren’t buying this any more than I am.

    That being said…
    “What if Maxis tangles up the series’ DNA or loads it down with micro-transactions or something, and fans still prefer the previous game?”

    I’m sorry, don’t you guys see this one coming? This version of SimCity is going to be equivalent if not worse than the micro-transaction laden Sims3. EA is doing this more and more… and they’ve already set this one up to have “expandable buildings” and all sorts of other “premium features”. If you’re worried about the simcity AFTER this one having too many micro-transactions… I think you might be disappointed in this one. I know I certainly have my hopes set low (sadly, since I was always a fan of Maxis games pre-EA purchase.)

    • Blackcompany says:

      So…Sim City as designed by Zynga? Hmm…yes, I could see it moving in this direction.

      • Brun says:

        Diablo 3 is the same way – the whole point of its always-online requirement is to make the RMAH microtransaction system work. The Zynga business model collapses if you aren’t always online.

  18. cjlr says:

    Dave Tosser would heartily agree.

  19. Iconik says:

    Oh Lord. Here we go again.

  20. Shuck says:

    I love these company responses when people (correctly) see the online requirements as anti-piracy measures. A multiplayer option is the carrot to the stick that is DRM. Designed “from the ground up” as “a multiplayer game” = anti-piracy measure. That it’s obligatory tells us everything we need to know – it’s not an MMO.

  21. rocketman71 says:

    1) That’s bullshit

    2) It’s EA

    3) Origin

    Ergo.. not buying.

  22. scut says:

    So what they just need to say is that it’s multiplayer only, and only through their servers, so the player’s purchase effectively renders itself non-functional when Maxis either ceases to exist or decides to shut down the servers.

  23. Baresark says:

    It’s hilarious. They may shorten the life of the game. And there will be one way to play it offline, and that is to pirate it. The silly bastards.

    Not about piracy my ass. These people are all the same, they are reactive, and not active. This is still a reaction against piracy. The excuse doesn’t stand up because the majority of people who want to play this game don’t want social features in the SimCity games. Is that not what the Sims was about?

    I’m skeptical about them finishing this game without messing it all up. They could remake SimCity 2000 and they would have a hit on their hands. But no, social features are a must.

    I would at this time like to bring up the introvert that me and at least 1/3 of all people are. We don’t need, and most certainly do not want social features in our games. 1/3 to 1/2 of all people are just like me. You shoot yourselves in the foot because you know nothing of people.

    • Shuck says:

      The thing is, if it’s truly designed as a multiplayer game, you won’t be able to pirate it. Some portion of the game will be running on their servers. At best you can pirate the client and have someone create new code that fills in the gaps and allows it to run. But whatever that is, it isn’t the original game. This is why this “multiplayer only” model is so desirable from an anti-piracy perspective.

  24. macks says:

    Do they really not get it? I don’t care *why* they’re requiring me to be online. They are touting this as a “feature” but it’s a requirement.

    I’ve never had any desire to play a city building game with other people, but regardless, the always-online requirement is the reason I won’t be purchasing this game.

    • shizamon says:

      Oh they get it, but they think if they can shift the industry, then they’ll get all that “stolen” profit, because the pirates will magically purchase all the games that they would’ve otherwise “stolen”

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I like the idea of referring, in the future, to acquiring games without giving money to the publisher as a “magic purchase”. Ie, purchased by magic!

        “How did you afford a copy of starcraft 2 on an allowance?”
        “Oh, it’s a magic purchase.”

  25. Freud says:

    As always, people should vote with their wallets. If you are a shitty consumer, you will get shitty products in the long run.

  26. SlappyBag says:

    So, if its a good game, I’ll purchase it at retail or online, never open it and just pirate the game. That way they get the money and I get the game I actually want.

    And thats me being nice, most will probs pirate it.

    Nice one EA.

    • LionsPhil says:

      EA don’t give a monkey’s as long as you give them your money.

    • Shooop says:

      If you spend money for it that’s giving EA your stamp of approval and they’ll keep doing it. Do you not understand basic economics?

  27. Pharos says:

    They’re doing this because they know large titles like SimCity are just a license to print money, and they know people will buy the games anyway no matter how much they cripple them. We saw it with Starcraft 2, which was appallingly price-gouged and had region-locked multiplayer. If you want to play people in a different country, you need to buy another (overpriced) copy of the game. And lots of people did. We’re seeing it again with Diablo 3; for all the upset that it’s Always On, I only ever hear people talking about how they’ve pre-ordered it and can’t wait to play it.

    Developers/publishers can make up patronising tripe like “it reduces latency” or “it comes with lots of cool features” because they know that for all the Angry Internet Posturing, people will happily abandon their principles and buy the game anyway. Remember how like 90% of the Steam group “Boycott Modern Warfare 2″ was playing Modern Warfare 2? It pisses me off because I get stuck with the results, but most gamers deserve what they get for being either gullible or hypocrites.

    • Blackcompany says:

      100% agree. Don’t own MW/COD/Battlefield and have not – and will not – buy Diablo III or Sim City. The latter, however, is a lost sale, as I planned to buy it. But no longer, there are frankly other games I can play.

    • Thants says:

      The region-locked multiplayer was stupid, but there’s no rational way you can argue that Starcraft 2 was overpriced.

    • Milky1985 says:

      The region locked multiplayer in SC2 makes sense, there is a major skill gap between the 3 major regions, with the koreans being top dollar.

      What doesn’t make sense is the need for different accounts over the regions, and not being able to just choose an option on login.

      That is where the money grabbing comes in.

  28. mLocke says:

    Wait… there are games at E3?

  29. Kismet says:

    Maxis producer Jason Haber explained his company’s side of the story during a chat with Eurogamer.
    “…These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. “

  30. faelnor says:

    I. DON’T. LIKE. MULTIPLAYER. GAMES.

  31. Jac says:

    I just don’t understand.

    Everyone here complaining about one time online activation has an internet connection or else surely we would not see their complaints. So what’s the bouef??

    • shizamon says:

      We’re all at work right now…

      In all seriousness, people are upset because the game seems to be going the always connected route. That’s why EA/Maxis is saying it’s multiplayer from the ground up. This means that when the sequel comes out, they shut down the servers due to there being less than 6% of all EA gamers playing it at the time. Then your rental period is over.

      • Blackcompany says:

        You fucking nailed it. If they succeed here, then next year, they will release Sim City 6. And Sim City 5 servers will close. Meaning you WILL BE FORCED to move to the new game, at the low price of $60, in order to keep playing.

        And that will happen year after year.

        Don’t believe it? See Call of Duty/Battlefield. Same shit, different game.

    • Shooop says:

      Because sometimes the internet doesn’t work 24/7. Sometimes people play games on their laptops like on trips.

      If the internet were available absolutely everywhere at all times for everyone then you could use that excuse. But it’s not.

      • Jac says:

        but why refuse to purchase a game that you would clearly enjoy playing based on the fact you might not have an internet connection for perhaps 5% of your life?

        If you’re on a trip then surely there’s WiFi available somewhere? I don’t refuse to go on business trips because i might not have a net connection and in general that would be provided. If its pleasure and you want to play computer games then just dont make the trip of it would deprive you of playing a game so badly.

        • TCM says:

          If my ISP falling down on their job means I can’t play any aspect of a game I have spent money for, for any actual amount of time, that is a huge problem.

          At the very least, it’s a “not at full price” problem.

        • NathanH says:

          It’s a problem because if this is waved through by everyone on the “oh well, it won’t affect me that much” line, it will become standard, and they’ll move on to the next thing that won’t affect you “that much” and make that standard, until in ten years time you take a look at the situation and think “Holy shit, how has it come to this?” And by then, it is too late and we have all lost.

        • Shooop says:

          Well then why should anyone have to pay $60 for something they can’t use whenever they want only because the makers of it decided you shouldn’t be able to?

          There is no good reason for any single-player game or mode requiring an internet connection for anything but a one-time validation check.

        • Thants says:

          Having to ask permission to play my own game every time is still objectionable even if I can almost always get that permission.

        • aepervius says:

          Because in 3 years or maybe 5 , they can simply switch off the server and now all you got is a pretty coaster.

          Capiche ?

    • LintMan says:

      “I just don’t understand.

      Everyone here complaining about one time online activation has an internet connection or else surely we would not see their complaints.”

      First of all, they keep twisting “one time activation” to mean “Every time you start the game” rather than, you know, actually just one time.

      So if your internet is down, or you want to play on your laptop while travelling or deployed in the military, or EA’s servers are down, you can forget it. And when EA decides to cheap out and turn the servers off in a few years, the game becomes permanently unplayable. And once EA has you online, they can put a store button right there on the GUI to sell you all sorts of nice stuff for your city

  32. syndicatedragon says:

    I don’t care whether it’s about DRM or not. I don’t want to play SimCity with a “global community”.

  33. JD Ogre says:

    Dammit! My bullshit detector just exploded. Oh, well, it’s not as if EA’s ever getting my money again, anyways. Not worth supporting such scum, and I haven’t since early 2010…

    EDIT: Not that I’d want to play EA’s version of CityVille, anyways. :P

  34. Blucid says:

    Game will come out, People wont buy it since it will be dumbed down just like every other great strategy game out there.

    Always online will be a killer for most people, then the piracy and small sales will kill the team. Then 6 months later the Sim City 5 Online Servers will go down, because EA doesn’t want to run one server. And you will not be able to play the game again….

    It will go down in history just like all the 1000s of games before it….

  35. wuwul says:

    It will be easily cracked if it’s just needed on startup.

  36. rockman29 says:

    I’m sure Minecraft is a heck of a lot of fun and wildness online, but it’s not a requirement there. I don’t see this or any other future explanation as any good reason for the requirement.

  37. Was Neurotic says:

    “good faith”? On the Internet? Gimme a fucking break.

  38. Jimbo says:

    Bollocks.

  39. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    But I don’t want to play SimCity with other people. I want to play it alone.

    I guess I’m not their market anymore.

  40. StingingVelvet says:

    To me the problem is more that they’re making everything multiplayer rather than DRM. I truly believe Diablo 3 and Sim City 5 were built for online, and of course TOR was. In the end I am pissed they took offline games I loved and made them multiplayer only, rather than being pissed at DRM.

    Of course the reasons are the same, multiplayer is hard to pirate.

  41. Iskariot says:

    Always online means NO SALE for me.
    I have three SimCity games and I consider myself a fan, but I will ignore this one. I have to be able to play it off’-line on my laptop. This is a game I typically enjoy playing when traveling.
    So they have made it useless for me.

  42. tyrsius says:

    Lot of nerve coming from a producer to tell us how this crazy decision came from “us as the dev team.” You aren’t a developer, sir. Stop lying to “us the gaming public.”

  43. TechnicalBen says:

    “Multiplayer focus”. Last, nail, coffin, dead. Oh well. Even Notch realises his game needs an offline and online option. I’ll spend my pennies on his latest space sim, rather than the latest city sim then. :(

  44. tyren says:

    Setting aside whether what they’re doing is good or bad, continuing to call it an “always-online requirement” when it’s explicitly not seems disingenuous to me. It’s no more onerous than having to be connected to Steam (or rely on its frequently-spotty offline mode), yet I don’t see this site urging companies not to release Steamworks-DRMed games. The term “always-online” brings to mind such idiotic things as getting kicked out of your singleplayer game when your connection goes out, and I guarantee you there are readers who don’t pore over every single article who will just see that headline (ignoring the article itself) and write the game off because of it. And no, that’s not a good thing, regardless of whether you’re against the “connection required at startup” or not – if people are going to put a game on their mental “do-not-play” list, they should be doing so based on accurate information.

    • smg77 says:

      If it was a one-time only activation thing you’d have a point but if you have to be connected to the internet every single time you want to start the game then it’s just the same as “always on”.

      • tyren says:

        Like I said, that’s no worse than Steam (and I again refer to its spotty offline mode – while I’ve never had any problems with it, there are many people that can’t get it to work at all), and I don’t see this site demanding that games stop using Steamworks.

  45. Jim9137 says:

    The only way to win the game is not to play at all.

  46. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Is Diablo 3 still doing exactly this?

  47. malkav11 says:

    I don’t really see why it matters what their professed reason for doing things is. It’s a bad thing that will hurt the longevity of the game and that I cannot support with my purchase. It’s certainly more insulting when they claim it’s a vital measure to protect them against the phantom terror of piracy, but no amount of “oh, this is totally necessary to create the game we’ve envisioned” makes it any less of a bad idea.

  48. MeestaNob says:

    I just don’t want to use Origin, that’s the only issue I have with anything to do with ‘always-online’ gaming.

    I wont be buying this. :(

  49. Keshie says:

    I will attempt to educate, in the most basic way, everyone who read this article and is a game playing addict and why you’re a worthless fucking loser.

    Hah! Anyone could’ve read this article but if you got this far and you reacted to the ‘game playing addict’ line, then I ask you to go a little deeper with me and examine why you were reading the article in the first place.

    Where you really thinking of buying this game from Maxis? A company that tried to ban homosexual relationships from The Sims? Who fired an employee for incorporating gays into the relationship model and then declaring his action as ‘unsanctioned’?
    Please try to remember that this is a company that imagines cities as block-built capitalist entities that curfews teenagers.

    Maxis was one of those companies that founded and developed their genre back in the 1990s – and then sold themselves out to a publishing house for big bucks and corner offices.

    They didn’t care about the restrictions and the censorship, they were living the American dream!

    Now, since surprisingly they weren’t buried along with so much else… they’re back and pleading legendary\traditional\Keeping-It-Real! status.

    I despise Maxis as a company and wait for the day when Open-Source devs make a city management game that let’s me *accurately* recreate any human urban centre from Ur up to New York City, 2012.

    That there, is exactly where Maxis baits and switches.

  50. gekitsu says:

    woah, i am so seriously fed up with this.

    “From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game.”

    bullshit.

    we are talking about sim city, where you head the development and management of a city. by its nature, thats something you, alone, do. there is even less direct competition inherent in the games premise than in other management titles where you manage one among a league of competing teams.

    a) either they overhauled the whole thing to some level of interaction similar to an mmo – where the presence of other human players is integral to what constitutes the whole experience. as outlined above, thats rather unlikely, considering we are talking about sim city. that, however, is, what “From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game.” means. only then does any kind of requirement of an online connection makes sense, and the kind of online connection must be either constant or at least checking in intervals.

    b) or they added some random connectivity stuff (read: crap), so that your whatever, moronic twin town, is not the city equivalent of an npc but your online buddys city. in that case, an online connection for retrieving this data is not as essential as “From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game.” states. you can damn well let the program pull npc cities out of its binary ass without any change to what the game is. what this model is, is a singleplayer game with some tacked-on fluff thats supposed to generate enthusiasm and caring for the game experience. anyway, this kind of “multiplayer” does, in essence, not require any kind of online connection whatsoever.

    thus, i call bullshit on a kind of online requirement that can not have any relevant bearing upon gameplay, and their trying to justify this with braindead nonsense like “From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game.”

    treating your customers like idiots, and making them jump through hoops just because you can, and because you may even have (delusionally!) convinced yourself that those hoops serve a noble and useful purpose, just to offer a game experience we probably already have seen done better 5+ years ago, is pretty much the best anti piracy measure there is: make an unnecessary game no-one wants to play, and if someone wanted to, your bullshit made him dislike your game enough to not even want to pirate it.
    really, that sounds like so much better an alternative than sitting on your asses, put your thinking caps on and come up with something worthy of a development budget. if people want to OWN your game, and you let them own it, they will happily part with their money.

    sorry guys, needed to blow off some steam.