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.”