SimCity Creative Director Justifies The Game’s Always-Online Requirement

Maxis’s upcoming SimCity is a game we all want to play, but the one element that holds it back from being at the top of everyone’s list is its always-online requirement. The requirement that players remain online for the purpose of interacting with other players and their cities puts a damper on those who would otherwise prefer to go it alone.

Speaking to Polygon, the game’s creative director Ocean Quigley justified the always-online requirement. He said that the decision was influenced by the way cities in the real world interact, which is quite unlike the solitary experience offered by the previous games in the series.

“If you look back at previous SimCities, they were almost all self-contained,” Quigley said. “Every city wound up doing pretty much everything. That drove all the cities to a certain level of homogeneity, and all the cities sort of converged onto the same sort of thing over the arc of play. That struck me as being a little sad. If you look at real cities, they all clearly do distinct things and have identities based around those things. I wanted to let cities differentiate themselves and let them find some way that wouldn’t automatically make them converge and allow them take on unique identities.”

While it would’ve been nice for Maxis to offer players the opportunity to play alone, it doesn’t look like that the design is in the cards, given the studio’s push towards embracing social media.

“SimCity is always kind of a lonely experience; you’re planning your cities all by yourself,” continued Quigley. “One of the ways that things you do take on significance is how they affect other people. The things that you do for other people give meaning to your own life and your own existence. I wanted to make cities more resonant and meaningful, and thought they would have more presence if they were doing things for other cities as well. The cities matter to the people around you, not just to you.”

I doubt that the justifications Quigley provides will do much to placate fans already angered by the decision, who criticized the developers—to their face—when they were conducting an AMA interview on Reddit.

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10 Comments on SimCity Creative Director Justifies The Game’s Always-Online Requirement


On January 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yep! Just another bull justification…


On January 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

It’s a pretty reasonable explanation….. but also incredibly freaking tone-deaf and a sign of where the video game industry has gone wrong. But it is logically consistent!

For most gamers playing something in a solo experience, a game is not a “lonely” experience. Playing Skyrim is never lonely. They make a world you get lost in, and you take control of.

Now multiplayer can be fun. I love playing MMOs and other MP environments. I love interacting with others. But sometimes, you just want to interact with your imagination.

The modern video game is moving away from that in a variety of ways, but this is one of them.


On January 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

He makes a good point.
Then again, if you look at real cities, they have huge areas of inequality, homelessness, some even have famine.
Does this mean SimCity 3 will offer customisable slums? Cause if it did, that would be awesome.
A game that lets you can build a city in hours shouldn’t be constrained by real-world factors like specialisation. If we wanted a realistic experience of town planning, we’d all become architects.
If I can create a flourishing hub of culture and civilisation in a day, why the hell can’t I make it completely self-sufficient in every way?
Good try, Quigley, but your argument’s flat-out weak.


On January 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm

He’s the creator, he makes what he wants to make. Why do you think you have a say in it?
(By the way, this sounds rhetorical but it’s not, I’m actually asking)

Ian Miles Cheong

On January 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Anyone is free to criticize the decisions he makes with SimCity. He’s not immune to that.


On January 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm

They don’t want players to get lonely? That’s not justification. That’s poor rationalization.


On January 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

The title should be changed to “SimCity Creative Director Tries To Justify The Game’s Always-Online Requirement” where he fails miserably to do so.


On January 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Why couldnt they say, “Its to make sure nobodys pirating the game.”.
That was simple.


On January 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm


Nowhere does anyone say we deserve a “say” in this project. This ain’t Kickstarter. Yet we have opinions on what makes a good game, and in the case of Sim City, a franchise that sold pretty damn well throughout history.

If a designer makes a decision that is dumb, people are allowed to call it dumb. The designer makes the decision. But they lose a customer. And in this case, they have lost alot of customers.

The past several games EA has made since their insistence on everything MP, day one DLC, have been flops. DA2 was a flop. Mass Effect 3 by their own admissions underperformed sales expectations. Dead Space 3 isn’t likely to do much better. They had a huge fiasco with Command and Conquer.

Why is this going to be different? So yes, they are free to do what they want to do.

But Sim-City will likely flop, and it would’ve sold a lot better had they simply not had the always online requirement, and justify it with the dumbest of concepts.

@SevenCell, if they had a way to include the equivalent of Detroit’s 8 mile in this game, that would be epic. For those not from the area, 8 mile is the dividing line between the doing better/affluent suburbs and the freakin Thunderdome that is certain aspects of the ghetto.


On January 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

“One of the ways that things you do take on significance is how they affect other people. The things that you do for other people give meaning to your own life and your own existence.”

Yeah…in REAL LIFE. This is a GAME. Not that he believes his own BS..we all know this is about nickel-and-diming players to death in a cash store (oh, and preventing piracy…if their lucky).