A couple weeks ago, the SimCity gang at Maxis held an AMA at Reddit. That may not have been such a smart idea. They don't like DRM over there, for any reason, and SimCity's gonna require an always-on Internet connection to play it, in any mode. It's no surprise that this comment, a compendium of anti-DRM remarks, was the most upvoted question of the entire AMA. Or that it went completely unaddressed.
Well, Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw has responded to this DRM food fight, sort of. Earlier comments on the always-on connection attributed it to the fact Maxis is building what it considers to be a multiplayer game. To this, Bradshaw adds the always-on connection is necessary because there's an enormous amount of cloud computing required to power this game, billed as the most advanced in SimCity's history. It's not something your individual PC will be able to handle on its own, not when the cloud servers are handling up to 100,000 Sims inside each city.
Right. Gotcha. That's great. It's still an always-on connection, which exposes the game to a range of apocalyptic scenarios, such as ones faced by an MMO that no longer is profitable, and scheduled for termination. And it still makes Reddit throw a fit.
It may be that this is a city-building MMO—and server downtime notwithstanding, you don't hear people complaining about an always-on connection in that genre, right? Right. But SimCity isn't really an MMO, because games in that genre can only be played in a world populated by other connected players. Maxis makes a point of saying you may play SimCity solo in a private game, like Diablo III. Which had an always-on connection. Which everyone hated.
Bottom line, we're talking about Electronic Arts, an always-on connection, and a game utterly dependent on servers that the publisher could one day shut down. That's enough to kick up a stink no matter what the game is, even one as loved and anticipated as SimCity.
The Benefits of Live Service [SimCity Official Site]