This month, small developer Colossal Order released their city-building game Cities: Skylines for PC, Mac and Linux. About this time in 2013, EA Games, a very larger game developer, released SimCity, a different city-building game. What’s fascinating, and really, refreshing, is that we have two very different receptions from each of these games. You have a big developer with a lot of money and plenty of manpower working on a game that was $60 at release. Two years later, you have a very similar game from a significantly smaller developer for $30 at release. And city-builder gamers love it.
Game developer Will Wright with Maxis started it all in 1989 with the original SimCity for the Macintosh computer. The first SimCity game I played was SimCity 2000 for PC. I picked it up at the book fair at my elementary school, because what 7-year-old wants to read books? I just want to play SimCity! The series has been incredibly popular with many simulation games taking inspiration from it. Would we have The Sims if not for SimCity?
In 1999, EA Games brought Maxis under its wing and that’s when things started getting…complicated. Just this month EA announced that they would be shutting down the Maxis developer offices in Emeryville, CA. Did EA see Cities: Skylines and the glowing reviews it got with half the production and half the cost?
SimCity (2013) had a few key issues that drove gamers crazy. At launch, players were required to sign-in on an online server (for a single-player game, what?!) in order to play the game. So if your internet connection is down or the EA server is down, no SimCity. The people in the game (sims) didn’t really act how people act. The city space in which to build was a quarter of the size of previous SimCity games. People got really angry. Especially because when the game was released, the most critical point where everyone spent a lot of money on this game, it did not work. I wouldn’t have a blog without flubs like this.
I’ve played a little bit of this game and watched others play it even more. The overwhelming response to this: This game is everything SimCity was not. You don’t have to be online. People have individual jobs assigned. You can follow every little person! I bought the game on day one and it worked. The space you have to build a city is huge. Steam Workshop is integrated right into the main menu, so all sorts of cool mods will come in the In this short playthrough, Polygon takes some shots at SimCity. If you want to see how it’s done, see how Sips is redesigning Donutsville, Bagelsville and Pretzelballs Junction. It’s actually therapeutic watching someone play Cities: Skylines.
It’s a very tame city-builder without too much trouble except for the occasional fire–no tornadoes, floods, or giant aliens to destroy your buildings or abduct your citizens. I’m okay with this. It’s not a game without drama, however. Christopher Livingston at PCGamer.com put the cheat codes on and made a city with one residential square. Hilarity ensues. We’re in the first week and so much fun has already been had. If you’re bummed out about SimCity and want to play the functional version, hit up Cities: Skylines. For $30, it’s at least twice the value of SimCity (2013).