SimCity Headed To Demo Beta Town Next Week

By Nathan Grayson on January 19th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

Recently, I think we’ve seen a fairly wide shift back to treating beta tests like, well, tests. Admittedly, things still get a little dicey when games like MechWarrior Online or, most notoriously, The War Z charge for early admittance, sometimes barely disguising toothy bear traps of vague terminology. In short, “foundation release.” But I digress. Apparently, SimCity didn’t get the memo, because its closed beta will be three days long. Is it a glorified demo? Probably. But oh well. You still (maybe) get to strap into your snazzy mayoral suspenders for a weekend, and Maxis will come away with some form of valuable data, at least. Details on registration and content after the break.

The test runs from January 25th to January 28th, but you’ll need to have registered by January 20th for a shot at getting in. So probably go here and do that as soon as humanly/Simly possible.

Again falling in line with the “totally not a demo” theory, the content itself is time-gated, so don’t expect to extend your tyrannical rule particularly far over the course of the weekend. You can, however, start as many cities as you want, so you can at least mix and match different approaches.

“We’ve crafted a one hour replayable experience that will let you enjoy the magic of the game and allow us to test critical features. Everyone will go through our ‘Getting Started Scenario’, which takes you through the basics of how to play the game and gives you a sneak peak at some late game content. After that, you’re free to start your own city and play for one hour. We’ve given you all the tools to build up a medium density city, given access to the Casino Big Business, all of the basic services, loads of public transportation options, and several options on how you can power your city. You can start up as many cities as you like during the 3 Day event.”

So it’s certainly something, even if you’re not exactly getting keys to the city. Are you planning to sign up, though? There will, of course, be notoriously pesky online shackles to deal with, but it still looks like Maxis has constructed itself quite a game. I’m hopeful, anyway – even if my dream of creating the ultimate suffocatingly industrial urban megatropolis while secluded in a far-off mountain cave with nothing but the glories of nature surrounding me will continue to go unrealized.

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64 Comments »

  1. lordcooper says:

    Is that link broken for anyone else?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I just assumed it was a demo of the always-on DRM

    • DonJefe says:

      It works fine for me.

      • lordcooper says:

        PDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1129] Host ‘ip-10-177-54-158.us-west-1.compute.internal’ is blocked because of many connection errors; unblock with ‘mysqladmin flush-hosts’ in lock_may_be_available() (line 167 of /var/www/www.simcity.com_build-2012-12-13_18-43-20/includes/lock.inc).

        • Lanfranc says:

          Server’s probably getting flooded. It worked fine for me after waiting a couple of minutes.

        • sabasNL says:

          I got “ERROR 310 (net::ERR_TOO_MANY_REDIRECTS): There are too many redirects.”
          I’ll try again in a few minutes I guess

    • The First Door says:

      It was utterly broken for me most of yesterday too, but I managed to get signed up eventually… I think.

  2. mehteh says:

    Too bad for its always-online DRM, inability to save, small cities, and unnecessary MMO architecture.

    • Cooper says:

      “pesky online shackles”

      How did we get to a point where the inability to save your hand crafted city to your own hard drive is something that gets just a passing mention.

      At the same time, removing all possibility of save-and-relaod; cities have been confirmed as “persistent”

      That old SimCity staple; the cathartic moment of setting a disaster on your city, watch it burn, and the reloading? Impossible.

      Having a series of save states so you can watch your masterpiece grow, or see what would happen if you tried something else? Impossible.

      How does Nathan manage to stay hopeful for a game in the face of this? Has it really got to the stage where necessitating connectivity is something that no longer fills us with anger and / or despair?

      • lordcooper says:

        As much as I bloody love games, I’m not quite obsessed enough to be brought to the depths of despair by one.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        At the same time, removing all possibility of save-and-reload

        You mean save-destroy-and-reload

        • Domino says:

          Don’t worry I’m sure the pirates out there will have a dandy time at creating local saves. Which is why I won’t be buying it.

    • SelfEsteemFund says:

      Doesn’t matter what any of us think or how many of us boycott, the pre-orders are through the roof & idiots will continue to give EA & other bad pubs money no matter how badly they’re being manipulated & taken advantage of.

      I can’t wait until cloud gaming comes about with everything being ‘social’ & based around coins + unlocks, It’s going to be so fun.

  3. Icyicy9999 says:

    With “cities” that size it should have been called SimTown.
    Or SimVillage.

    • phelix says:

      SimVille™! Want to perform more than 20 actions per day? That’ll be 250 EA Points.

      • Hobbes says:

        There’s more accuracy in that than is comfortable as I understand.

        • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

          “Get your sims on the move with the NEW Subways DLC! New ways to get around!” Or, “New! ‘Construction Set’ DLC! Now YOU can sculpt the terrain for your SimCity!”

          It’s inevitable, right?

          C’mon RPS, nobody here cares about this shit. Isn’t there anything more interesting to write about?

          • socrate says:

            The sims 3 just show how a good title can turn not only extremely bad but also become a milk cow by a dumb company that don’t care about game at all,EA tend to kill all it touch…and offer everything that was in the past game in 40 different expansion and adding next to nothing new,there is just nothing going for this game…i don’t even get why there is so much news on it all the time while other game that are more interesting and close to coming out aren’t getting any attention AT ALL.

            The sad part is that people tend to not try before they buy when we have the tool to check out and support game that are actually worth helping and supporting and that is why company with horrible ethic and way of acting keep making these insane number each year.

  4. sabasNL says:

    So when I’m correct, you get 3 days to play this “beta” and only 1 hour for each “city”?
    That’s called a “1-Hour Demo”, EA.

    • phelix says:

      Betas for triple A games are mostly elevated demos nowadays, anyway.

      • sabasNL says:

        Some of them, yes, but atleast you can play the game unlimited during the tests and it actually does still serve for some last-month improvements, unlike this

  5. Premium User Badge

    Cross says:

    It’s ironic that releasing this demo will more than likely undermine the DRM effects of the online component, as pirates will get a head start on cracking open the DRM.

    • Hobbes says:

      Depending on how much is stored on the server side of things, a crack may be very straightforward (i.e. if it’s a save state, simply have it redirect somewhere locally and store it for retrieval there), to very tricksy (so far it seems like world integration data is server authoritative, which would be all kinds of horrible considering it needs that data to -do stuff- concerning math).

      From what I know the cities are supposed to be a persistent part of a network which is weighted by friends on Origin first, then those geographically near you, then rest of world. This makes scamming those metrics much harder (at least until some kind of world editor “trainer” crops up).

    • Belsameth says:

      Like D3 before it, SimCity is going cloud based. This’ll basically mean it’s not crackable.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Depends how much of it is offloaded to the server. It’s still not up to OnLive levels of “impossible”, where the amount the crackers have to re-implement is “the whole game”.

  6. SketchyGalore says:

    Cue ten pages of battle between cynical and sarcastic bitterness vs. misguided marketing and greed from a giant corporation, all fought over the corpse of the best city building series ever made…

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Now who can be blamed for leading that horse to the butcher? And, thinking about a Simcity title after this one, it is quite possible that if this game is successful that a true Simcity game might be farther off than ever, but if it doesn’t succeed.. it could mean the same.

    • Mctittles says:

      The worst type of comments are those that try to guess the most likely conversation to be sprung from an article and then preemptively mock those comments as if any logical or likely conversation is inherently bad.

      Cue up person replying to article.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      You might as well have just summed up your comment with one word: zeitgeist

      If misguided, vitriolic arguments between two camps that essentially want the same thing, while ignoring the demise of it, isn’t the “spirit of the times,” I don’t know what is.

  7. Neurotic says:

    I am SO glad that so many morons will be put off playing SC5. I’ve been waiting for this for too long to have the experience – however it’s delivered to me – spoiled by the ‘down wif ebil corps’ whiners and holier-than-thou ‘itswrongbecauseitsalwaysonandsoareyouifyoulikeit’ arseholes.

    • MrLebanon says:

      We’ll see who the moron is when EA’s servers are down for maintenance and you can’t play SimCity

      Or when 1-2 years from now EA releases Simcity 6 and decides to put down Simcity 5′s servers altogether and you can’t play anymore.

      I will come back to this page and comment “I told you so”

      • derella says:

        If the servers are still online in 2+ years will you post a video of you flagellating yourself?

        Cause being right on the internet is important.

    • lcy says:

      So anyone, like me, who wants to play an essentially single player game on a laptop whilst travelling is a moron? Glad you let me know!

      Still, plenty of other games I guess…

    • Stupoider says:

      Did we mention there’s no terraforming?

    • mrmalodor says:

      I’m so glad that I’ll be having the last laugh, playing all those sweet DRM-free games, while you will be frantically trying to get hold of EA’s support team only to receive a useless copy-pasted message.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Hey! Don’t forget the neurotic fanboi / fangurl who throws vitriol and insults at strangers on the internet just because they don’t share the same positive outlook of their product of choice!

    • P.Funk says:

      I’m reminded of the Silent Hunter 5 fiasco with its always online DRM, when during the first few days of launch the Uisoft servers were down and nobody could play the brand new game.

      I hope things go just as…. well for SimCity 2013. :P

  8. mihahalu says:

    Tristan. although Bernard`s blurb is good, on sunday I got a great new Toyota since I been bringin in $8479 this-past/5 weeks and even more than ten k lass-month. with-out a doubt this is the nicest job Ive ever done. I actually started seven months/ago and practically straight away made more than $75 per hour. I use this website,, http://www.Cloud65.com

  9. Shooop says:

    Is it a glorified demo?

    Yes. As is any EA Games “beta”. Sometimes the finished release ends up worse than the demo like Bad Company 2.

    • Mrs Columbo says:

      Bad Company 2′s one of my favourite games. What was in the demo that was taken out?

      • Shooop says:

        In the final two-three days of the demo in BC2 everything ran smooth. Hit detection was working really well and everyone thought we’d have that same level of polish on the full release.

        Release came and the craptastic hit detection that plagued the demo where back. And it never got fixed.

        After that I started getting leery of EA games.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Battlefield 3 Alpha was way better than the Beta or Retail release. No Blue filter, no dodgy physics, seemed to have less bugs.

  10. Chandos says:

    “The test runs from January 25th to January 28th”

    Do they know their “beta” is running exactly at the same time as the 48 hour global game jam?

    Looking to gather valuable feedback Maxis? How about checking the calendar next time?

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      And what minuscule % of their target market do you think even knows what the 48 hour global game jam is?

  11. dsi1 says:

    Well at least they’re giving everyone a chance to see how shit it is before it releases.

  12. Mrs Columbo says:

    Yep, it’s a demo. However, it’s a 21st century demo i.e: a somewhat-tawdry excuse to create scarcity of product and increase in demand (three days to get your valuable registration data in) in an era of digital gluttony.

  13. Lanfranc says:

    Well, I’m looking forward to it (both the beta and the game). It’s not precisely what I would have liked to see in a new Simcity, but it doesn’t mean it can’t still be a great game.

    • mrmalodor says:

      No game with always-online DRM can ever be a great game.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        You do realize that is just your personal value and that to 75% of gamers (if not more) you sound like a whiny idiot? I realize that might be hard to understand when you are only exposed to the .0000000000000001% of the gaming public that comments on gaming websites, but most people honestly don’t care at all as long as it works, and despite what you would claim it usually does.

        I don’t like Ea’s business practices either but the amount of righteousness and lack of perspective on these issues here is positively religious.

  14. Jahkaivah says:

    ” or, most notoriously, The War Z charge for early admittance”

    Incidentally where does Dota 2, which went as far to give what is supposed to be an early access beta its own steam sale, stand in this respect?

    • Cooper says:

      The differences, in summary:

      WarZ was “released”

      SimCity’s time-limited, restricted demo is a “beta”.

      Dota 2′s beta has never been sold as anything other than what it is: Access to the beta.

      • Jahkaivah says:

        Thing is the idea of a paid for beta isn’t supposed to be as a cash grab, but as a means of encouraging more serious testers who are less likely to get themselves kicked from something they paid money for while keeping the size of the playerbase in check.

        However sale discounts, while in our favour, is ultimately a money making tactic which conflicts with the above intentions.

        I just have a hard time seeing this being sold as a beta when its been literally sold alongside released products in steam sales with little to distinguish it. And it has been in beta for so long now that the fanbase seem to be hardly treating it as one.

  15. Iskariot says:

    This is going to be the first Sim City I won’t be buying.
    Always On = Always No

  16. Ougie says:

    I found some crack. It seems legit. It’s probably SKiDROW’s official website.

    You can download it from: http://goo.gl/WLYiX