SimCity offline is coming. A new blog post from EA wants to make sure we’re very, very excited about that fact because, if you remember, we really wanted that to happen about a year ago, when the game was all but non-functional due to server load.
Unfortunately, I largely got over the irritating lack of offline play after the game returned to stability a few weeks after launch. I stopped playing SimCity months ago, and not because of the always-online thing. I stopped playing it because it didn’t really work: traffic made no sense, large cities kept on developing inexplicable bugs, region mechanics were unreliable at best, and the small city sizes essentially eliminated the opportunity for any design creativity. The idea of multiple small cities connected in a region remained just an idea as it became clear that this title wasn’t capable of delivering on any of its promise.
This doesn’t fix the biggest problems with SimCity, it just reminds us that EA was wrong when it said that an offline mode for its game was impossible and, in a broader sense, that it released an unfinished game last year. It’s a shift in vision without an apology for how infuriating the original vision was, or an attempt to patch the lingering damage that it did.
Meanwhile, EA continues to promise consumers that Battlefield 4 might eventually work, and I think we’re supposed to be thankful for the fact that it plans to patch the game to restore some sort of baseline functionality. This company badly needs to learn how to talk to its fans, or else it’s going to start receiving some real after-effects from things like being voted worst company in America. Both the Battlefield and SimCity franchises need serious work to restore consumer faith. To say the least, the developers are facing an uphill battle.
SimCity has a chance to become a fun game again, one that rests entirely in the hands of the modding community. If amateur coders and game designers can get over SimCity’s mod policy and start figuring out ways to make this game work, there could be new life here. But we’ll see — the basic underpinnings of the game seem flawed, and one wonders what amount of tweaking could save it.