Once bitten, and bitten, and bitten, twice shy, it seems at Maxis. After their utterly stupid and inherently selfish decision to artificially force SimCity to be always online, and then lie about why, it seems this time out they've decided not to push their luck. Sims 4, the PC and Mac-only release (I can't see that lasting - surely 3DS, Vita and next-gen ports will eventually appear?) will play one hundred percent offline, according to a report from VG247.
Producer Grant Rodiek told Mr Garrett's site that it's "an offline, client-based game". Presumably before curling his head away and begging, "please love us now!"
It's tempting to say, "Well, they got burned, so obviously," but it's actually rather a big deal. In a world of microtransacted social networking skateboards and the like, to keep a massive franchise like this offline is certainly rather a big deal. Bearing in mind its enormous, mainstream reach, and how easy that would be to monetise online, avoiding making networked neighbourhoods a requirement must have still taken some doing. In fact, it's hard to not assume that at one point there would have been plans to have it and SimCity integrated.
Of course, it's not like EA didn't already quite impressively screw up a fully online incarnation of the Sims, inspiringly called The Sims Online. It was a flop, endlessly mucked around with, before being madly renamed EA Land, then finally and mercifully stamped to death just six months later. So with that in their history, and a whole lot of well-earned hatred and hostility over their ludicrous bullshit with the ultimately pretty awful SimCity, it makes some sense.
So, it's rather good news, really. The PC/Mac exclusivity is an odd one - it's hard to see why EA would want to deliberately avoid the next-gen goldmine for a series that always sells infinity copies, plus infinity more of the infinity DLCs that follow. Unless of course they have something else planned for them, that they've yet to unveil. Only the unending ticking of chronological time will tell.