EA Exec: SimCity Always-Online Came From Maxis

by Adam Biessener on Mar 28, 2013 at 06:42 AM

EA Labels president Frank Gibeau told GamesIndustry International that SimCity’s online requirement was born out of the creative vision of Maxis’ development team, not the “evil suits at EA.”

Gibeau likens SimCity to an MMO, and has harsh words for DRM controls. “DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business. So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve,” he told GamesIndustry International in a wide-ranging interview at this week's Game Developers Conference.

Not to keep banging on Electronic Arts over the problems SimCity faced in both design and online infrastructure, but the distinction Gibeau is drawing seems disingenuous. Does an online requirement magically stop being DRM and become an MMO when it has some minor gameplay attached to it?

For that matter, calling your game an MMO when you can only fully interact with three other players at a time and another 12 through more limited means is questionable. And no, passively connecting to global leaderboards and a basic commodity market doesn’t count.

Nonetheless, SimCity is “the fastest-selling and biggest SimCity we’ve ever built” according to Gibeau. For all those players’ sake, I hope Maxis is able to fix the crippling simulation-related problems that currently plague large cities even when the servers are functioning perfectly.

I’m still not over being angry at EA over the whole debacle. Can you tell?