SimCity 2013’s launch was “like being on a sinking ship” says creative director

SimCity launch

The latest version of SimCity didn’t quite hit expectations, in case you missed it at the time. Excitingly received by a massive community, it almost immediately fell over thanks to an always-online requirement that many felt wasn’t needed. Things spiraled from there between servers never being fully repaired, community mods removing the online requirement and other PR gaffs. Now in an interview with GameInformer, the project’s creative director at the time of release, Ocean Quigley, has revealed some of what lead to those problems.

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The decision to make SimCity always online didn’t, perhaps unsurprisingly, come from Maxis, but from publishers EA. They felt this was the direction games were heading, and believed the game should function as a full platform on which to base other developments in the future. Quigley specifically says that while microtransactions were a consideration, they weren’t the driving force.

It did lead to some bonuses, like the constant linking of cities between friends. Naturally, Quigley would have preferred making those features optional, especially in the wake of the disastrous launch. That’s when the sinking ship analogy comes in, as a million players did their damndest to burn Maxis’ servers to the ground on launch day.

“The back end of it all, sort of, collapsing in flaming server rooms was, well — it feels a little bit like being somebody on a sinking ship,” he explained. “You've done a really nice job on your part of it, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you've made all these beautiful things, because the rest of the ship is exploding.”

Heart-breaking for a team who, he says, we quite proud of what they had built when it worked. Loads more in the interview, embedded below, which kicks off at about 1:13:22.

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Thanks, Polygon.

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Jnx avatarDustyGerkin avatarGlen_Runciter avatarJohnMiles avatar
Jnx Avatar
1 Year ago

Simcity and Maxis are a sad story really. Or rather a story with a sad ending. Despite all it's faults, which were numerous, the game was very fun to play for a while and looked really nice. But at least we have Skylines now :)

DustyGerkin Avatar
1 Year ago

The always online was only one small part of the issues with this game. More SimTown, lots of the simulation was fudged, just generally broken. Multiplayer rarely worked... Got seriously burned with this game. Not one ounce of fun to be had.

The communication from Maxis and EA was beyond woeful. So many lies.

Shame they've never recognised these faults.

It killed the franchise. Long live Skylines.

Glen_Runciter Avatar
1 Year ago

" lots of the simulation was fudged, just generally broken. "

uh-huh, thank god that'sw not the case in Skylines, which is, at least judged by comments made by the fanbase, is the most perfect game ever made.

JohnMiles Avatar
1 Year ago

"Skylines, which is, at least judged by comments made by the fanbase, is the most perfect game ever made."

That's why they're called "fanbase"... of course they praise that game, but it's far from being perfect in my opinion.

DustyGerkin Avatar
1 Year ago

It's not perfect but it's much closer to what SimCity should have been.

The limitations of the SimCity engine killed it. That and EAs 'help'.