Get ready to run your virtual city right into the ground next week, as Electronic Arts and Maxis are ready to throw open the gates to SimCity, the 2013 resurrection of Will Wright’s seminal simulation game. The game isn’t due out until Mar. 5, but Electronic Arts is ready to begin the thorny process of testing the game’s boundaries, looking for glitches and attempting to balance its internal systems to prepare for the flood of players that will sign online to the game this spring. To that end, EA is holding a public beta test for SimCity. If you want to build in January, here’s your chance.
Starting Friday and ending Monday, EA is accepting applications to participate in a public beta test for SimCity. The testing itself will take place between Jan. 25 and Jan. 28.
“It is always an exciting moment to share a game that is still in development with its fans prior to launch,” said Maxis VP Lucy Bradshaw in an EA press release, “This beta will help the team improve the live service aspects of SimCity to ensure a smooth and user-friendly experience at launch.”
What Bradshaw doesn’t mention is that this test will also acclimate many of SimCity’s most diehard fans to some of the new restrictions present in the update to the series. SimCity will, unlike previous entries in the series, require a persistent internet connection to play. In fact, players won’t even be able to save their game without maintaining a connection to EA’s servers. The live service referenced by Bradshaw pertains to how well EA is going to be able to navigate the troublesome aspects of games with persistent connections. Blizzard’s Diablo 3 went through years of beta testing before releasing in May 2012, yet that game still suffered myriad networking issues under the strain of millions of players connecting to servers simultanously.
Would be city planners that plan to apply for a position in the test should also temper their expectations since EA is severely limiting how much time players will have in the game. Each test session lasts just one hour. SimCity simulations are regularly carried out for far more time than that, but the beta test isn’t a tool for gathering feedback on game quality. It’s a stress test.
Players can sign up for the test here.