SimCity 'offline' game to be released as free download

Scene from SimCity Image copyright AP
Image caption The last version of SimCity was online-only, but it was beset by problems

The makers of SimCity have announced they are to release an offline version of the game.

The news comes after repeated problems with the launch of the most recent release of the city-building game, which required players to be online.

Requiring connection to the internet was seen as an attempt to curb piracy, but some users struggled to log in.

The new offline version will be available to all players as a free download once testing is completed.

SimCity had been a stand-alone game up until March 2013, when a new online-only version was released.

The launch was beset by problems, with many gamers reportedly waiting 30 minutes or more before they could start to construct a city.

Others said the game was sluggish once they were playing, that it was slow to respond to changes, and it often crashed.

'Polished as possible'

Electronics Arts (EA), which owns SimCity creator Maxis, apologised for the problems and said a lot more people had logged on than it had expected.

It called the launch "dumb" and offered a free game to those who had been affected.

At the time of the reported problems, Lucy Bradshaw, head of Maxis, said an offline, single-player mode did not fit with its "vision" for the urban-planning game and that many people preferred the online multi-player version.

But in a blog post this weekend, Patrick Buechner, general manager of Maxis, said: "Let's get right to it. SimCity offline is coming! I've wanted to say those words for quite some time."

"When we launch it, all of your previously downloaded content will be available to you anytime, anywhere, without the need for an internet connection."

He also said that an offline version would allow users to make modifications to the game and its components without compromising the integrity of the online game.

"Modding is a big part of our studio's legacy and we're excited to see what you guys create," he said.

Graham Smith, writing on the gaming website Rock Paper Shotgun, said the announcement was good news.

"The offline mode is a real boon to the community. If you've got no internet connection or just a shaky one, this is the difference between being able to play the game and not," he said.

Mr Buechner said that Maxis was in the late stages of wrapping up development of the offline version and in a nod to the previous launch added that "while we want to get it into your hands as soon as possible, our priority is to make sure that it's as polished as possible before we release it".

The offline game will come as a free download with update 10 and will be available to all SimCity players.

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