Maxis and Electronic Arts have been accused of forcing an always-online requirement for SimCity as a thinly veiled attempt at curbing piracy, but in an interview with GamesIndustry, EA Labels' boss Frank Gibeau says just the opposite. According to Gibeau, DRM was not the reason for forcing players to stay online while playing a traditionally single-player game.
Speaking to GamesIndustry at GDC this week, Gibeau commented, "That's not the reality; I was involved in all the meetings. DRM was never even brought up once. You don't build an MMO because you're thinking of DRM - you're building a massively multiplayer experience, that's what you're building."
Gibeau also stated that DRM was not an option for game publishers anymore. "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business. So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all," he said.
The game has been critically panned by just about everyone
Gibeau also said he was disappointed that EA didn't do a better job of communicating that SimCity was meant to be played as an MMO. "I'm disappointed that we didn't do a better job communicating that upfront. I'm disappointed that we had a rough first couple of days in terms of underestimating how people were going to play the game and how the server infrastructure was going to hold up, but we responded the best we could, we got people to fix it as fast as we could," he said.
Leading up to the game's releases, Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw had claimed that the game needed to be connected to the cloud because the cloud handles some of the calculations for the game engine. This was proven false when a modder managed to hack the game into running without connecting to the Internet earlier this month. Reddit user UKAzzer published a video that shows him playing around in the game’s debug mode, which in turn allowed him to tweak the game to let him to play offline, along with making some other major changes to the game.
Other than the ability to play offline, the biggest change was the ability to build structures outside the boundaries imposed by the developers. Cities in the game are capped with a roughly 2-square-km boundary, but the video shows UKAzzer laying down highways outside the boundaries. "You can edit the highways ANYWHERE - even outside of your city boundary," UKAzzer said, "and even if you quit the game and log back in later, it's all saved safely on the server.” He continued, "This shows that highway editing will be easily possible, AND that editing outside of the artificially small city boundaries should be very viable too."
Check out what we thought about SimCity in our review.