With the nightmare that has been trying to play the new SimCity in the early days of its release, fan demand has been growing for a patch that enables offline play. While EA has stated this would be too difficult to roll out, a modder has managed to prove them wrong.
According to the head of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw, an offline version of SimCity would require ““a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game.” However, an anonymous source from inside Maxis allegedly got in touch with Rock Paper Shotgun to clarify that this is not quite the case. According to Bradshaw the primary problem with an offline version lies in the game’s need to “offload a significant amount of the calculations to [EA's] servers.” RPS’s source, however, had this counter to that claim:
“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 goes on to explain there would need to be some workarounds to accommodate for the lack of SimCity’s region-related capabilities in an offline version, but it would be viable. As if this weren’t enough to discredit EA’s defense, a modder has managed to get the game working offline in a fairly functional fashion via SimCity’s debug mode. While it doesn’t allow for saving, as that is a feature that relies on EA’s online servers, this does seem to serve as some pretty damning evidence against how necessary SimCity’s game-crippling always-online DRM really is.
Whether EA plans to own up and perhaps acquiesce to fan demand for an offline patch, or merely stonewall any inquiries much as Sega and Gearbox did with Aliens: Colonial Marines remains to be seen.