Update: According to an EA rep, SimCity's Update 10, which enables offline play, is being released today.

Via Twitter, Maxis PR director Charlie Sinhaseni wrote, "Hey guess what? Update 10 that enables Offline Play for @simcity is coming today. Deployment begins now."


Original Story:

SimCity generated its share of controversy last year with an always-online requirement. In spite of fan outcry, Maxis told players that the move was made because the game incorporated cloud computing. Now the studio is reversing its online position, with official word that a single-player offline mode is coming via an update.

The company had already said that it was considering such a move, but now it's official. Patrick Buechner, general manager of Maxis Emeryville, revealed the update in a blog post.

"In Update 10, you can still play solo in Regions on your own, or in Multiplayer with people from around the world," he wrote. "What’s new is the Single Player Mode, which allows you to play the game Offline by yourself. And because your saved games in this mode are stored locally, you can save and load to your heart’s content. Our team will be delivering a follow-up blog that will outline the full details in the near future so stay tuned.

"So what does this mean for the Online game? All of the benefits of being connected will remain including access to Multiplayer, the Global Market and Leaderboards. And all of your pre-existing saved cities and regions will still be accessible should you log-in to the Online game."

Buechner also said that with the introduction of offline mode, Maxis will embrace game mods and modder creations, which he says won't compromise the integrity of the online game.

Comments on the post were split, with some people asking sarcastically how it would work without the cloud (a feat that an enterprising player managed to pull off shortly after the game's release), and others enthusiastically saying now they're finally willing to pick it up.


Our Take
Former editor Adam Biessener wrote an opinion piece when the always-online controversy was still going strong, and it sums up my thoughts better than I could do in this space. I'll add that anyone who writes this off as being a case of too little, too late, needs to understand that, like Maxis' Sims games, SimCity titles have shelf lives that are measured in multiple years. Whether this will be seen as a temporary hiccup or a longer-term issue for those hardcore players will remain to be seen.