The dawn of a new day brings yet another well-deserved SimCity public relations nightmare for Electronic Arts and Maxis, as more and more users are discovering that the game’s initial server issues were just the tip of a very large shoddily designed DRM-iceberg.
Today’s SimCity crisis is brought to us by Youtube user UKAzzer, who discovered how to enable the game’s debug mode and in the process confirmed that Electronic Arts and Maxis have blatantly lied about the SimCity‘s offline capabilities, artificially small city boundaries, and the actual population capacity of user’s cities.
UKAzzer first enabled the game’s debug mode by “playing about in the code”, which then gave him access to a few extra features — although he remained locked out of certain developer-only abilities like the terraforming tools.
The most important tool that he discovered was the ability to edit the main highways both inside and outside of his city boundaries. Additionally, all the changes that he made to the region’s out of bounds highway system were easily saved to Electronic Arts’s server, and would reappear even after exiting the game and logging back in. UKAzzer speculates that because editing the highways is so easy, editing other features outside of the artificially small city boundaries is also “very viable”. This would seem to prove that EA and Maxis have, for whatever reason, arbitrarily restricted the overall size of user’s cities.
Following that discovery, SimCity-hacking hero UKAzzer changed the time that the game can remain disconnected from EA’s servers from about 20 minutes to a slightly longer “forever” setting. This gave him an offline version of SimCity, which was something that Maxis and EA said was impossible due to the calculations that their servers were doing. Naturally, certain region features that rely on EA’s servers did not work offline and the game could not be saved locally, however, once reconnected to the servers everything worked normally.
Guess that officially debunks another EA lie, and backs up recent speculation about SimCity‘s actual offline capabilities.
Finally, UKAzzer confirmed reports that SimCity population sizes are in fact “artificially inflated” as many users have suspected. By getting rid of the padded numbers he reported that his large cities have dropped from populations of about 100,000 to just 15,000.
Electronic Arts had initially stated that cities could range up into the 500K to 1 million population mark, after fans complained about the small city boundaries. With UKAzzer’s discovery, it is clear now that EA and Maxis have embarked on a bit of a deception quest in an attempt to fool SimCity users into thinking that the game was larger than it really is.
Not being a lawyer, I am not claiming that Electronic Arts or Maxis has done anything legally wrong with the way they marketed SimCity, nor am I insinuating that any legal recourse should be taken against them. What I am saying, is that it seems pretty clear that both EA and Maxis have mislead their customers about the game’s capabilities, and delivered a sub-par product or service. That is something that should, and needs to be, rectified by voting with our closed wallets.