The New SimCity: Is This Really Progress?

I like progress. I really do. I like seeing my hometown of Adelaide Australia change and become better. I read the tech blogs and keep up with science and while I’m not always an early adopter of new tech, I do keenly imagine what I’d do with it. I’m waiting for The Singularity and can’t wait for the day I’m able to install that neural interface.

But sometimes progress isn’t.

When a building developer knocks down a gorgeous old character filled building and replaces it with a soulless and bland example of modern architecture, as state of the art as it may be, I think we’ve gone backwards.

And this is the way I think EA and Maxis has gone with SimCity.

I’ve played several incarnations of SimCity and its clones over the years. There was SimCity 2, SimCity 2000, SimCity 4, among others. I enjoyed the Impressions Caesar and Pharoah games. I’d love a real space colony game (anyone remember Outpost 1?) I like games with building.

Yet the latest SimCity, (I can’t seem to find a number, is it 5? Let’s just call it SimCity 2013 then,) is like that grand old stately building that is torn down to make way for a soulless office block.

Sure, it looks great with the latest graphics. But EA/Maxis has replaced the grandeur that was available to make a game that you can only play online, and as a consequence you are playing a diminished game.

Tipa has her reflections on the game up at West Karana which you should go over and read. The following quote I thought said it all.

Can’t back up your game. Can’t experiment. Can’t type “FUNDS”. Cities are pretty small because that’s all multiplayer can handle.

If you ever played the earlier SimCity games you’ll know they were massive. Not just in city size, but in what you could do. You could experiment to your hearts content. Now… well now you’re restricted to what EA allows. No giving your city extra funds in order to see what happens. No backing up, and more importantly:

First, you will not be able to play SimCity 3 in ten years. Maybe five… maybe. That’s about how long EA keeps the servers for their other online games running. So, enjoy the game now, all your cities and stuff are going away. Can’t save them to floppy and play it again in twenty years.

No Good Old Games versions in ten years time, if you’ve lost the disks in a move and have a yearning to play in 2033 while relaxing in your retirement castle, well… sorry chum, EA shut those servers down 15 years ago. Bummer.

Sometimes I wonder what is driving all this dumbing down of games. Well I do know. It’s the almighty dollar. Again, I’m not against companies making a buck, even making megabucks, but including ‘features’ like always on DRM and then cutting the scope of the game to allow for that DRM is just sad.

Isn’t it supposed to be: SimCity 2013 is better than SimCity 4 is better than SimCity 2000 is better than SimCity 2 is better than SimCity 1?

So why is it now SimCity for Dummies?

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