Electronic Arts’ SimCity Mods Policy: Ingrateful Basterds

The Fact Is, Only EA Will Really Be Affected

Consider that over the total lifespan of the game, it’s very probable that the majority of people who will have purchased SimCity 2013 have already done so. For most, offline mode will end up being just something else to do with the game they paid for sometime last year. That puts considerable pressure on EA.

It’s likely we’ll never know precisely how much, but it’s a safe bet EA and Maxis spent at least single-digit millions making the game playable offline. And that means for the investment to pay off, a lot of new customers are going to have to be lured in by the mode. While there are no doubt plenty of people who just want to play SimCity 2013 without having to connect to the Internet, a sizable chunk of potential buyers who didn’t buy the always-online version of the game come from the community of SimCity 4 modders.

Unfortunately for EA, judging from the online reactions of such people in the weeks since the SimCity 2013 modding policies were announced, it’s likely they’ve gone from “potential” to “unlikely.” And that could end up making the time and money spent on creating the offline version of the game a waste. That’s as good an incentive as any for EA to lighten up.

Frankly, it’s the digital equivalent of “free speech zones.”

Then again, placing ridiculous restrictions on modders is a pointless endeavor. Just as modders made mincemeat of EA’s absurd suggestion that Battlefield 3 was far too difficult to mod, no doubt there are people right now looking forward to the chance to prove EA can say whatever they want, but it will have exactly zero effect on user behavior.

We are, after all, talking about an offline game. Does EA plan to sue modders who dare create anything more complex than polka dot buildings for copyright infringement? Does EA plan to include the ability to remotely terminate the ability to play SimCity 2013 offline? Either action would ruin what little goodwill they’ve earned back by creating offline mode and, at minimum, make them a lock for yet another Worst Company in America title.

It would behoove EA to remember that modders aren’t enemies, but they can be powerful allies. After all, they were before, despite EA’s apparent dislike for them. Barring EA changing its mind, modders who rightly feel dissed have a choice. They can either choose not to buy the game at all, or they can see what happens if they simply disregard EA’s user agreement. Frankly, I’m having a hard time not recommending they just pick option “both.”

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8 Comments on Electronic Arts’ SimCity Mods Policy: Ingrateful Basterds


On January 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I say: “Sit and spin.”


On January 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Not defending EA or this crappy game in anyway but…. the not letting you mod certain files may just be to make sure you can still go to the online mode and not nuke either their server with errors or make their customer support read and fix the same ticket all day. ( i installed mod x and now i cant play game with friend ugh.. fix you’re stupid ass game)

and for the no credit payment etc for using the mods people have made to make the base game better? wait a minute didn’t they do the same thing with minecraft ? which gets a gazillion mods every day. and has been getting allot better (not counting the upcoming patch it might crap on the game)

Red Menace

On January 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I haven’t purchased an EA games since they required Origins and I’ve never looked back.


On January 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I’m another person who stopped buying from EA when they introduced Origin, and I too have never looked back. There are a LOT of other fish in the sea. EA’s hilarious sense of self entitlement to my money and how I use my things is vaguely pitiful. I’m the buyer here, I choose what I get. They’re *absolutely* obnoxious and demanding, not to mention invasive of my privacy. I have zero interest in buying from them.


On January 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Meanwhile look at games like Elder Scrolls and their still to this day vibrant community, even though Skyrim is now a 3 year old game. I fired it up recently (4th playthrough!) with new mods, and I’m finding a new game again. Look how well TES games sell on the PC. If you are going to build a series on the PC today, you need to have a mod-friendly community. that’s just the way the business is. If they want to keep alienating that community, that’s really their thing.

Skyrim proved that not only can a mod-friendly pc game work, but it’s insanely profitable.


On January 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Precisely. The entire TES series has made Bethesda a massive pile of money while also making a lot of players and modders very happy. Doesn’t stop there though, look at Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. Absolute money printers for Bethesda, both titles. Not only did Bethesda not put the brakes on modding those titles, they basically gave the world the keys to the car by releasing the GECK development tools for free.

Consequently, Bethesda has a giant fan base that holds the company in almost the same reverence as Valve and buys up games as fast as the company can make em’. On the other hand, you have EA, where a lot of gamers would probably celebrate if the corporate headquarters burned down in a large fire. There’s a lesson in that for EA, or there would be if the corporate leadership wasn’t comprised entirely of non-gamer money grubbing suits.


On February 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Just because EA has a policy against it, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to do it. A policy is just a policy. That is too bad for them, I guess. People already pirated the game, they should just stop trying.


On February 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

While almost every week I buy games from other companies that care about users, I torrent every single EA title I’m interested on. I will never give a single coin to this suckers.