SimCity to finally add offline mode one year after launch

Developer Maxis and publisher Electronic Arts today announced that SimCity, their revival of the classic urban planning simulation game that was released in March 2013, will finally be getting an offline single player mode, after months of requests from frustrated gamers who did not care for the game's online requirements.

The announcement on the SimCity website stated that the offline mode will be added as part of the game's "Update 10" patch, but no specific release date was announced. It stated, "When we launch it, all of your previously downloaded content will be available to you anytime, anywhere, without the need for an internet connection." More details about the offline patch will be revealed later, but the post did state that it will help SimCity's modding community as they will be able to add content without disrupting the online portion of the game.

The Windows-based game had one of the worst PC launches in history nearly a year ago, due in part to the fact that SimCity players were required to log into an online server to play, even in single player mode. As a result of an influx of more players than EA had predicted for the launch, many people were unable to download and/or play SimCity for a number of days. EA fixed the problems later, and even offered a free downloadable game from their library of titles as compensation for the server issues.

While many players wanted EA to put in an offline mode for SimCity, similar to the ones that were put into the classic games in the series, EA and Maxis kept insisting that an offline mode was not what the development team wanted to do for the new game. In a message posted on the official EA blog a few weeks after the launch, Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw stated that the new SimCity was a massively multiplayer game in many ways, adding, "So, could we have built a subset offline mode?  Yes.  But we rejected that idea because it didn't fit with our vision."

It would appear that Maxis and EA have now had a change of heart on this issue, but is this offline mode announcement coming too late to help SimCity? Only time will tell.

Source: EA | Image via EA

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I may give it a go again when it becomes offline. I haven't played it since release, gave it a week before it drove me to madness and not played it since. I went back to Sims 3 which you can play offline which works well in my house. My fiance is normally online with Battlefield which is laggy at the best of time, but when I was on SimCity or Diablo he basically could not play and he was not a happy bunny. Until we get fiber we cant really both be online, so this will help me anyway!

I didn't play Sim City, but I recently discovered a to-be-released city builder game called Banished. Looks fantastic, much better than Sim City & I'll be getting it as soon as it's released.

Thing is Banished is developed by ONE dude.

Too little too late... should have listened to the community prior to release, it's not like they weren't warned their "vision" sucked before hand.

I bought the game when it was on a super clearance sale, but it's sat on my shelf.
Finally, i'll get to use it! Hooray!

But agreed, I think it's too little, too late...

I hope so but I was reading something a while back that basically stated that the agents (people, cars, etc) would not function out of bounds (which is a limit of the engine) - I think it was the same guy who originally made the mod to build out of bowns.

Doesn't matter, game is still broken. You can have congo garbage trucks OFFLINE now! Woohoo...

I'd rather a refund, but hey, that's like asking for a non-bugged to hell release title (of anything) from EA - impossible.

CheeseFart said,
Probably so they can shutdown the online servers and still be able to sell the game

That would be great =). I bet they are spending more in servers now than they are getting revenue streams from the game...

I bought the game on release, played it in beta... but at release I only played it a couple times... the online issues just annoyed me to the point I stopped trying and haven't played it since... and it's sad because SimCity has been one of my favorite games since it was the first SimCity in 16 colors....

what's great is the fact they had to announce it as "FOR FREE" in big letters... as if they were going to make it an DLC add-on or something for money....

neufuse said,
I bought the game on release, played it in beta... but at release I only played it a couple times... the online issues just annoyed me to the point I stopped trying and haven't played it since... and it's sad because SimCity has been one of my favorite games since it was the first SimCity in 16 colors....

what's great is the fact they had to announce it as "FOR FREE" in big letters... as if they were going to make it an DLC add-on or something for money....

Ahh... I remember that. Great game. (referring to the original 16 color SimCity game)

Lord Method Man said,
Hasn't exactly been a bumper year for always-online DRM.

Has it ever?

I can't ever remember a year where I thought "Hmm, always-online DRM is great!"

I really don't know why they're still sinking resources into this gigantic flop of a game.

This, combined with all the other problems, such as the fact that it should be called SimTown, the deeply flawed and over simplified simulation and the way that you have to rely on other cities in the area all just make a really, really poor game.

Too little, too late. They should have done this before the game was launched, or at the very latest, in the first major update to the game.

Wakers said,
I really don't know why they're still sinking resources into this gigantic flop of a game.

This, combined with all the other problems, such as the fact that it should be called SimTown, the deeply flawed and over simplified simulation and the way that you have to rely on other cities in the area all just make a really, really poor game.

Too little, too late. They should have done this before the game was launched, or at the very latest, in the first major update to the game.

I loved Sim Town when i was younger, those were the days. There was so many good Sim games. Sim Town, Sim Tower, Sim Island, Sim Safari.

EA is a publicly traded company meaning they only care about their bottom line (money) and not the consumer as much since they have to make shareholders happier than us.

I wish EA would do a Michael Dell move and go private (or private again in Dell's case). Dell saw the company not doing well because it's all about making money and not about pushing the technology properly so now he's a private company again.

I don't think EA games will ever be as good as other developers/distributers because of this. I'm tired of getting excited for a game and then buy it, not be able to play it, and when I can, I've already found some other game to spend my boredom with and feel like I wasted money.

We live in a day and age with so many options, if you don't get it right the first time, people will move on to something else. EA got their initial sales on the game for shareholders, but with not listening to their fans (not shareholders) they won't get continued sales meaning SimCity will never get a proper reboot because this one didn't succeed.

Also tired of the cloud... It sucks having to rely on other companies servers/cloud when my PC can push the game just fine. What if I don't want to play SimCity in a multiplayer environment? Never had to before and now you are taking my beloved game and forcing me to play it another way?

At least patch SimCity 4 so I can play it with my graphic card properly. Have more fun in SimCity 4 and mods than I do new SimCity. BIG and small maps I can choose from.

This game convinced me to get Cities XL. It's a bit of an adjustment as many mechanics are different, but it's still worth a look over this SimCity title

Actually have CitiesXL. I like it, but performance suffers a lot after you build your city up. I have a AMD 4.2GHz 8 Core CPU with an Nvidia 760 Video Card and 16GB Ram and CitiesXL still gets very slow. Still a good game and I consider it a good upgrade from SimCity 4 also.

This is a good move, but it's still not enough for me to buy this game. I've always been a SimCity fan but there are too many aspects of this game and its launch that I don't care for.

I recently got the 'cities of tomorrow' expansion and I've been having quite a bit of fun with the game again. It still has its weird bugs but I can live with most of them now. If they would just make the cities a reasonable size then I think this would be good game overall.

They can't, that's the problem.

After running a large city for a few hours, my city starts to lag. I'm using a 2.8ghz CPU and 7770 GPU + 6gb of RAM, so I don't think there's an issue with my computer's power, but the game just becomes a slideshow - and I don't think it's an issue with my computer specifically as Sim City is the only game I play that cannot run for hours at a time.

greenwizard88 said,
They can't, that's the problem.

After running a large city for a few hours, my city starts to lag. I'm using a 2.8ghz CPU and 7770 GPU + 6gb of RAM, so I don't think there's an issue with my computer's power, but the game just becomes a slideshow - and I don't think it's an issue with my computer specifically as Sim City is the only game I play that cannot run for hours at a time.


Your hardware is absolutely the reason the game begins to slow down.

Elliot B. said,

Your hardware is absolutely the reason the game begins to slow down.

Could you elaborate please? Because I had the same issues using a 4550HD, and I'm never maxing out my RAM usage even while using Sim City and doing other things.

I suppose it could be my CPU, but what sort of monster CPU does this game take if a Phenom is too slow? And why does the game work perfectly, for a few hours, before it grinds to a halt? It's not the agent count, because my city population remains relatively constant. Nor is it related to hardware throttling as this is the only game this happens to.

ignore him, if it turns into a slideshow it is because the game is leaking resources. Essentially, it's optimized like crap.

thartist said,
ignore him, if it turns into a slideshow it is because the game is leaking resources. Essentially, it's optimized like crap.

...like other Maxis games, then. Does ok at first, but does not scale at all. Years ago I quit playing The Sims 2 because the one neighborhood I had been building up for years was no longer playable. Other neighborhoods were ok, but the point of this type of game isn't to constantly restart from scratch.

SimCity 4 was a crash-fest for me, even with all the patches. I can only lose progress made over hours so many times before I give up.

If there's going to be an offline mode for this version, I still might give it a chance. Is it in the bargain bin yet? I'm not gonna play full price for another Maxis title anymore.

I really want to buy this game, but not enough to make an Origin account just for this game. I own 200+ games on Steam, I think it would be silly to install Origin just for this one game.

Just more software running in the background... I can find all my games in Steam. Just personal preference. I own Simcity 4 on Steam. EA put Sims 3 on Steam as well. Why won't they add Simcity (5) to Steam as well?
So, it's just my opinion, I think it would be silly that I would have to install yet another app store just to play one game.

Ohhh - well I don't let Steam run in the background - I only run Origin or Steam when I want to actually play something.

If you did the same you wouldn't have this issue.

Bamsebjørn said,
Just more software running in the background...

Uncheck "Automatically launch Origin when I log on to Windows". There, fixed for you.

hhernan said,
The big issue is not the online requirement, but the tiny cities size.

They have stated that they already tried to increase the city size and were unable to do so due to performance impacts. Apparently the engine can't scale very well due to the amounts of entities it is trying to track.

brianshapiro said,
and the number of features they took out that existed in the previous game.

I saw they added a bunch of stuff back in (like subways)

I think it's just poor coding. They probably rushed the release and didn't spend too much time on optimization because hey, optimizing a game doesn't sell games!! Only having it in the stores does! <-- random corporate executive mentality.

I mean... It's ridiculous how we played this game with huge cities on ancient computers, worse than a budget Android phone today, where the main difference is only graphics, not "entities". Or maybe it does indeed track things on a much greater granularity than before, but in that case the AI was so dumbed down to not overload the CPU that it didn't make a difference...

tl;dr I think the game design and performance reeks of game rushing by EA.

Northgrove said,
I mean... It's ridiculous how we played this game with huge cities on ancient computers, worse than a budget Android phone today, where the main difference is only graphics, not "entities".
It's actually completly different from old Sim Cities. Older Sim City games were statistical simulations with a graphical front-end on top. The new Sim City simulates an actual city with all its individual entities (all cars, people), and statistics are derived from what actually happens in the city as a result of each entity's decisions. So it's the opposite approach and it's massively more expensive to compute.

Andre S. said,
It's actually completly different from old Sim Cities. Older Sim City games were statistical simulations with a graphical front-end on top. The new Sim City simulates an actual city with all its individual entities (all cars, people), and statistics are derived from what actually happens in the city as a result of each entity's decisions. So it's the opposite approach and it's massively more expensive to compute.

My thoughts exactly. They didn't really track entities on the old ones. We had little static animations and that was it.

Actually (at least in sc4) they did simulate entities and traffic and such, they just did it in a sample fashion, ie not trying to simulate everything for each and every citizen. They foo-bared this engine by trying and requiring too much that just wasn't needed, we didn't need water\power pulses simulated, they way they did that in sc4 was perfectly fine. Long live sc4+mods

but is this offline mode announcement coming too late to help SimCity?

I can't speak for others, but for me this helps sway me towards buying the game. However, they still need to work on the sizes of their "cities" before I will get it.

Well to be honest I don't know as I don't own the game. However, I've heard nothing through the updates about the sizes being increased, and when I saw initial gameplay footage they were drastically smaller than previous games. Their reasoning was that each town should specialise in an area in order for the cities to work together, and while that sounds like it could be cool, removing the ability to create a standalone Metropolis annoyed me.

Just like how it's impossible for the game to function in offline mode without a drastic cut in features since so much of the simulation is done in the cloud?

I think a lot of the calculations are done in the cloud and when you had those brief periods the calculations were simplified however I think they see the need (finally) and either figured out a way to do it all the way offline now or they are just letting people stick to offline all the time.

Asmodai said,
Just like how it's impossible for the game to function in offline mode without a drastic cut in features since so much of the simulation is done in the cloud?

Perhaps you should look at the game requirements again. They legitimately can't expand the world size without cutting off a lot of those systems.

shinji257 said,
I think a lot of the calculations are done in the cloud and when you had those brief periods the calculations were simplified however I think they see the need (finally) and either figured out a way to do it all the way offline now or they are just letting people stick to offline all the time.

Nothing is computed in "the cloud" beyond inter-region stats and service availability.

The game never needed "the cloud" in the first place, it was nothing more that a weak attempt at justification of always-online DRM in a primarily SP game.

Randomevent said,

Perhaps you should look at the game requirements again. They legitimately can't expand the world size without cutting off a lot of those systems.

They could easily add a performance check that enabled larger maps if your system met a minimum system requirement if they wanted to. They don't. My 8 core, 4 GHz processor could quite easily copy with the processing demands of a larger city I'm sure.

xendrome said,
Are they still really tiny compared to the old days?

Yes way too tiny. The largest city in the newest SimCity is like barely a medium sized city in the old ones.

Yeah, one of the issues is that even the largest plot is so small, you simply can't build high density cities (So you have things like "fudged" population, where the game multiplies the actual population by a magic number to make it seem like you have more sims) Never mind that the "in depth agent based simulation" is anything but, a much bigger issue with larger cities is that the simulation falls apart, not that it slows down or stresses the system too much.

It's nice to see them turn off the always online DRM at this point, but it's too little too late, and this Sim City just isn't that good of a game compared to previous releases.

If you're waiting for the city sizes to be increased you're going to be waiting for an eternity, because that's not what *this* SimCity is about. Whereas the older SimCity games were about building one massive city, this latest installment of SimCity is about building a bunch of smaller cities to form a complete community where each city supports each other. This is why for each city you assign a specialization to that city. If you are just wanting one massive city, then you need to go back to some of the older SimCity games, unfortunately.

GollyJeeWizz said,
If you are just wanting one massive city, then you need to go back to some of the older SimCity games, unfortunately.

Or wait for a newer one. DX11 and 64 bit would allow them to simulate a much bigger city.

Randomevent said,

Or wait for a newer one. DX11 and 64 bit would allow them to simulate a much bigger city.

DirectX isn't going to have any impact on the simulation.