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Maxis exploring the possibility of SimCity offline mode

Modding discussions also ongoing, but studio has no plans for larger cities

Seven months after SimCity's disaster launch, when servers for the always online game buckled under the weight of demand from users, EA Maxis is finally considering launching an offline mode.

In an update on the studio's future plans for the title, Patrick Buechner, general manager of the Maxis Emeryville studio, revealed: "Right now we have a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode."

"I can't make any promises on when we will have more information, but we know this is something that many of our players have been asking for. While the server connectivity issues are behind us, we would like to give our players the ability to play even if they choose not to connect. An offline mode would have the additional benefit of providing room to the modding community to experiment without interfering or breaking the multiplayer experience."

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One commonly requested player feature set to go unanswered is a call for bigger cities. "After months of testing, I confirm that we will not be providing bigger city sizes," Buechner said. "The system performance challenges we encountered would mean that the vast majority of our players wouldn't be able to load, much less play with bigger cities."

Buechner also reiterated that Maxis has begun discussions with players about opening up the game to mods.

Additionally, he said his studio intends to continue to release a mixture of free and paid SimCity DLC, with more region maps and buildings due to be introduced free of charge in the near future.

In late July, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau said SimCity had overcome its nightmare launch to surpass two million sales.

"In retrospect, our biggest takeaway is that we are lucky that SimCity has an enormous number of loyal fans," he said. "That first week after launch was really rough - an experience nobody wants to live through again.

"We've sold more than two million units, and the number of people logging in and playing is holding steady. SimCity is a success. However, underestimating demand in the first month was a major miss. We hope that the game and the service we've provided since then meets the fans' high standards."

SimCity launched on Mac in late August. EA plans to release a SimCity expansion called Cities of Tomorrow this November.

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