Tag Archives: maxis

Thoughts: SimCity.


SimCity! The game which, if you believe the gaming press, is irrevocably ruined by that Great Satan of modern PC gaming: always-online DRM masquerading as social functions . Many, many column inches have been written about SimCity’s disastrous launch, when (as with all online game launches these days) the servers fell over under the strain and nobody could play it for a week without sitting in an hours-long queue. The game was pilloried by its playerbase, as users flocked to Metacritic to dump SimCity’s score into the red and give it an average rating of just one star on Amazon1 It’s one of the most botched releases in recent memory, with some people blaming the resignation of EA’s CEO squarely on SimCity’s failure.

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  1. Amazon even stopped listing the game for a few hours based on the number of refund requests they were getting and there’s still some bad business going on between them and EA.
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Thoughts: Spore.

Maxis games have always been a little bit frothy. They’re very up front about the fact that they are games, to the point where they had this as their company ident circa SimCity 2000. “Software toys” sums up Maxis games perfectly for me; they are almost universally open-ended sandbox designs where you’re set loose in a virtual playground to do what you will with the systems Maxis have provided, and they’re presented with a thick layer of light-hearted frothiness to encourage you to have fun. What made Maxis games so successful – up until this point – was the fact that that layer of froth usually concealed a deep and comprehensive game experience lurking beneath. I’ve invested dozens of hours in the various SimCities connecting up plumbing and worrying about my education budget, and even the unapologetic virtual dollhouse of the Sims is surprisingly complex for what it is. They may be frothy, but they are not shallow.

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