Last week, SimCity developer Maxis held a pretty disastrous Q&A session on Reddit, in which users grilled the company relentlessly about the game’s planned always-on internet connection. Gamers hate that, and see it as little more than a sneaky way to try and avoid piracy.
Days later, though, Lucy Bradshaw from Maxis has explained what the always-on connectivity is for: the community. Because the new SimCity is the most advanced iteration of the franchise yet, Maxis is looking to find a way for one player’s city to have some impact on others’. To do that, it needs the always-on connection:
“You’re always connected to the neighbors in your region so while you play, data from your city interacts with our servers, and we run the simulation at a regional scale. For example, trades between cities, simulation effects that cause change across the region like pollution or crime, as well as depletion of resources, are all processed on the servers and then data is sent back to your city on your PC. Every city in the region is updated every three minutes, which keeps the overall region in sync and makes your decisions in your city relevant to any changes that have taken place in the region.”
That’s…actually a pretty awesome response. Even still, the folks at Kotaku point out enough reasons why the always-on connectivity is still a bad idea:
“Maxis makes a point of saying you may play SimCity solo in a private game, like Diablo III. Which had an always-on connection. […] Bottom line, we’re talking about Electronic Arts, an always-on connection, and a game utterly dependent on servers that the publisher could one day shut down. That’s enough to kick up a stink no matter what the game is, even one as loved and anticipated as SimCity.”
That’s a solid fact, too. Even though it’s a very cool idea to interconnect the different players’ cities, what gamers want are options, and they want to be able to play a video game that they pay for. If in five years SimCity tanks and EA shuts down the servers, that will punishe those gamers who did pay for a copy and want to play, regardless of whether the rest of the world has moved on. Always-on requirements are pretty much always more trouble than they’re worth, no matter how good the features they’re meant to power sound.