So, on Wednesday, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau called Sim City an MMO in this article in which he talked to games industry international at GDC. I am reminded of a line from The Princess Bride, in which Inigo Montoya says, "You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means". EA has called Sim City an MMO a few times before, but that is easily brushed aside. However, it seems like they want to keep it up, and I feel like our intelligence as gamers is, as a result, being insulted.
So, before I rip into Electronic Arts again, let's get a few words defined so its very clear what is, and is not an MMO. MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online.
The commonly used definition for MMO is, "A computer game in which a large number of players can simultaneously interact in a persistent world". Emphasis there is mine. Look at it though, "A large number of players" fills the "massive" part, while "multiplayer" fills the "simultaneously interact" part and "online world" is filled by "persistent world".
Sim City as a game cannot ever be an MMO. It is my opinion as a gamer that it does not and cannot adequately fill the massive or simultaneously interact portions of the definition. The interaction is limited to calculations being passed between servers on a node (region in this case). Sure, players can affect one another in a very limited way if they are sharing resources, it isn't simultaneous though. Even if we are generous and give them a lot of credit, it still isn't massive. Going into a hypothetical scenario, lets say they release regions that are 12 times the size of the current regions, and eventually allow 128 different people to play on the same region at the same time. That does not qualify as "massive" in anything. The big problem is that each region is instanced. This means that Sim City is about as much of an MMO as World of Tanks is an MMOFPS, that is, to say, it isn't and cannot ever be. Its design, very simply, forbids it.
However, EA INSISTS its an MMO. So, they get held up to MMO standards. As absurd as it sounds, I'm going to look over this game's features with an eye on them as if they are equal to and comparable to other MMOs, namely one that they currently publish: Star Wars: The Old Republic. All of this comes from what is publicly known about the design and implementation of the game
So, without further delay, how does Sim City stack up as an MMO?
Terrible. There are no "guilds". There is a chat interface and the ability to find people you "know" through Origin. That is about it. There is nothing to solidify an organised group of players as a group and community besides regional play, which has been displayed to be badly designed and completely unnecessarily flawed. There is no reason to believe any of this will happen or become possible in the future. This aspect of traditional MMOs receives a giant 0 for Sim City.
Non existent. And no, trolling and griefing other players by getting them to rely on you and pulling the rug out from under them does not qualify as PVP. This game could never support PVP if it wanted to. There just isn't any way to do it that I can see.
Unless you count having to micromanage the info layers and the traffic problems of your city as PVE, there is none. There is no combat, and the environment is at best a quasi 3d terrain map.
This is an absurd notion. The entire game is "supposed" to be group content, but it doesn't really work out that way, because the games flaws with traffic and how it is implemented completely ruin any notion of cooperating with others, mostly because of the fact people are as likely to help you as they are to pull the plug out from under your city by ceasing support.
DLCs are to be released in the future. For an MMO, this is what really makes me laugh. DLC stands for "DownLoadable Content". That doesn't work for MMOs. At all.
No, I'm sorry, this just doesn't work. I can't even hold it up to MMO standards, its just too absurd for me to go along with. So, that was an interesting mental excercise. Thank you for at least making your slide into irrelevancy interesting and entertaining, EA. As far as I am concerned, I think they're beyond repair with this. There is no way I can take them seriously any more.