Little Giant of Simulation Games in SimCity Buildit

Back in 2014, Maxis team went into beta with an experiment of sorts. The experiment was venturing into SimCity mobile version. Originally called SimCity mobile, the game evolved into SimCity Buildit, a top-down simulation game ported from the 2013’s version. (The comparison, it should be noted, is based completely on observation and not gameplay.) Unlike anything else at the time and still quite unique today, SimCity Buildit was released commercially in November 2014 with little fanfare. Lack of advertising didn’t help, but the rabid fan base developed during the beta test almost guaranteed the game’s underground success. The publisher, EA, pulled support for the game in early 2015, and that’s when the players took over. To this day, every zone, every website and every bit of information about this game comes from the players, and there are still several thousand playing.

So what’s the big deal? Why are people still playing a technologically and graphically outdated game? In a word, gameplay. This game is the epitome of substance over style. The graphics, while by no means ugly, are definitely dated. There’s no rockin’ techno intro, there’s no fancy 3D dogfighting, and there’s no enormous system requirement either. What it lacks in flash is more than made up for in depth. Throughout the numerous zones (maps and mods to veterans), players can choose to play solo or with others online. While on the surface this game is as simple as the oft-compared-to Cities XXL, the depth is realized through consistent gameplay.

At its most basic level, SimCity Buildit is a modern version of the (very) classic SimCity. This may sound confusing, and for the first week or so, it is. The controls are not remappable. (No contortion is necessary with touchscreens). Since there’s no theoretical limit to the number of players in any particular zone, there can be 10 players in one zone while there are 250 or more in another. It can all get quite hectic very quickly.

Finally, the coup d’etat of SimCity Buildit is the chat interface. This alone is probably responsible for much of the staying power of the game. Players are free to log on and simply spectate (sit in spec, as it were), where there’s usually a conversation of some sort going on. While this game has its share of KeWl D00Dz (just like any online game), for the most part the people in the game are at least civil. Many have made lasting friendships through the game’s interface, simply because of its flexibility. Players are free to talk in public, talk privately, use team chats, use squad chats (the two are different), then join up to five different chat channels and speak on those as well. There’s no other game in existence with such a comprehensive chat interface, and navigating it is a breeze with a little practice. Often, players log on only to chat, and some will spectate for hours. There’s no penalty for this, and maps are not recycled every 10 minutes or so as on an FPS game.

So why should anyone give this game a look? If you want free thrills and enjoy excellent gameplay, it won’t hurt to download the file. Some precautions should be taken, though. Many of the players in SimCity Buildit have been playing for quite some time. In other words, you will be a newbie and you will get destroyed, especially while you learn the game. There are also many aspects of the game that are simply “understood” by the players, and newcomers have to figure these things out fairly quickly. For additional inputs on the game and its features like unlimited SimCash, visit simcitybuildithack.net.

I strongly urge anyone interested to at least give the game a shot. Again, it’s not eye candy and it’s not for everyone, but those thirsting for a taste of something different will most likely enjoy the game, if only for a few weeks. There’s nothing else like SimCity Buildit, and since it’s all player-run, there’s no telling how long the magic will last. People should at least experience gameplay perfection before it’s history. Few other games have occupied this much time for so many players, and it’s not known whether or not it will happen again, at least when it doesn’t involve elves.