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.