SimCity Doesn’t Need Servers Says Maxis Insider
In all the hubbub surrounding the problem-ridden SimCity launch, many players requested that EA produce an offline mode for the game—which they were unable to play due to its always-online requirement. In response, EA Maxis’ studio head Lucy Bradshaw claimed that it would not be possible for the developer to do so without “a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game” and that the game’s online servers handled a significant amount of processing.
Her claim, which was made to Polygon, was refuted by tech-savvy players on reddit, who discovered that it was possible to play the game without an internet connection for up to 10 minutes at a time. They were only disconnected when the client sent a ‘heartbeat’ to EA’s online servers.
Today, a SimCity developer at Maxis spoke with RockPaperShotgun, under the condition of anonymity, to state emphatically that the statements made by Bradshaw are untrue, and that it would be possible for to engineer an offline mode for the game without too much difficulty. The publication verified the source as having worked directly on the game, with first hand knowledge on online functionality.
The source explained: “The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless.”
The source further explained that Maxis’s decision to disable the game’s Cheetah mode was to reduce the number of updates its servers could handle.
The statements made by the source are in line with findings by both redditors and Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo, who verified first hand that it was possible to play the game offline for 19 minutes without any problems.
When asked whether it would be possible for EA to create a single-player game, the source confirmed that it was possible to do so without, as Bradshaw claimed, “significant engineering.”
“It wouldn’t take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff,” he wrote.