Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six Months of Work to Implement?

January 16, 2014 - Andrew Eisen

Last year, Electronic Arts launched its new SimCity game and even though it is and always has been a predominantly single player game, the new title had no offline mode.  This decision was so unpopular that it's likely the major reason EA earned the Consumerist's Worst Company in America award for the second year in a row.

Over half a year later, EA has announced that the next update to SimCity will add an offline mode so gamers can play the game the way most of them wanted to in the first place.

Some may question why it took so darn long.  After all, hackers had shown that the game could be played without going online and that the whole "all the calculations are being done in the cloud!" thing was a bunch of bunk.

According to EA, "while someone was able to remove the 'time check' shortly after launch, they were unable to perform key actions like communicating with other cities that they had created locally, or with the rest of their region(s), or even saving the current state of their cities."  In other words, the game was designed to be online and getting it to run offline with important features like saving the game was truly a lot of hard work.

But what do you think?  Do you believe EA?  If not, why do you think it took so long?  Low priority?  Developer incompetence?  Rampant locust attacks at Maxis HQ?

Whatever your humble and well-informed opinion may be, please share it with us in the comments below or in an email to us at SuperPACpodcast@gmail.com.  EZK and I will share the poll results and your thoughts along with our own on next week's podcast.

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

I can imagine that it took them six months to patch it but only because they gave it low priority. The game was shown as capable of playing offline very early on and the claims of number crunching being offloaded to their servers was never anything but an excuse to justify the always online. I imagine this is too little too late, the game will always be remembered for the things it did wrong (the online) and from what I have read it wasn't even a terribly good Sim City game anyway. I don't expect there to be a sudden surge of purchases from people like myself who would have liked a new Sim City but were not at all interested in what EA came up with.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

Is there an option for 'It probably did require 6 months of work, but I have such a grudge against EA in addition to little or no understanding of how coding works, I'm just going to say 'No' purely out of spite.' Cause that's probably the option that most people would pick if they were being truly honest...
“How can one not be fond of something that the Daily Mail despises?” ― Stephen Fry

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

Offline play was proven possible, doable, and as easy as flipping a switch a week after launch.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

Possible, but incomplete.  Getting part way there was as easy as flipping a switch, the rest of the way is more of an unknown.  Notice moders didn't manage it.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

No. Not really, no.

And given EA's propensity for being full of it, the logical answer is: No.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

Absolutely it would have. We've been building a new version of a custom add-in for Microsoft Word for the last six months, but I keep 'breaking' it (i.e. finding bugs). Although I must admit we only have one guy working on it. The point is these things do take time to do properly. Whether it's done properly is another thing though (I guarantee people will find bugs).

The real point is that they should have started sooner or just avoided the whole unnecessary mess in the first place. Either that or stick to their original target audience of people who are always online and happy to have an always online game.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

I think only having one guy working on it is relevant to Sim City.

From what I understand, they're not charging for this and just releasing it in a patch. I *really* doubt they planned it from the beginning, since shipping with certain features missing or incomplete is kind of a thing, and would have been the default mantra during the controversy. Not a thing players like, but one they're more willing to accept than, "You'll have nothing and like it."

So, after-launch decision that will make no money (I can just imagine bean counters insisting this can only possibly lose them money as the majority of sales have already happened and this will open the possibility of piracy), which they never promised to players until it was almost released.

Yeah, sounds like the sort of thing you stick one or two guys on and if/when he finishes it, ok, if not, meh, while the bulk of the team works on things that sell for money. I know some MMO developers who even have devs do one-man pet projects like this in their spare time, off of the main update/expansion schedule, to slip them into minor updates as they finish.

Re: Poll: Did SimCity's Offline Mode Really Require Six ...

I am going to have to go with 'plausible'.  I would not be surprised if it came to light there was some reason they fudged the numbers since it is, well, EA, but I also do not think the timeframe is outrageous.   But I would be esp unsurprised at something like low priority.  

I would be rather surprised if it was 'developer incompetence', clusterexpletive or project management cycle of doom I could see, but even the best groups can fall into those traps when the stars align right.

Absent any specific evidence to the contrary, I take their word for it.

 
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