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EA offers fans another chance to beta test SimCity


On January 25, EA and Maxis opened the doors on the first beta test of the upcoming SimCity. It ran until January 28, after which time we had been told the test would vanish into the ether. If you didn’t manage to secure a spot, you would just have to wait until SimCity officially hit shelves on March 5. At least, that’s how it seemed until EA announced a second beta this morning.

Scheduled to take place from “1400GMT on February 16 to 1400GMT on February 17,” the second test will “feature an enhanced version of the one-hour slice of gameplay that delighted fans in January.” As with the earlier test, those wishing to join the beta will need to officially register their interest at the SimCity beta testing website. Keep in mind that you’ll need an account with EA’s Origin digital distribution service to complete registration. Assuming you’re interest is still piqued, you should hurry to drop your name in the virtual hat: Registration for the second test draws to a close on February 11 at 2:00PM GMT.

Alongside today’s announcement of the second test, EA also opted to issue a brand new trailer for SimCity (below). Perhaps EA believes that a look at the title’s latest and greatest gameplay and graphical features might convince people to sign up for the beta test. 

SimCity will make its retail debut on March 5. If you’re planning to buy the game on day one, keep in mind that since it requires that a functional Internet connection be constantly available, attempting to enjoy the game on the day it debuts may not go as well as you’d hope. That “always connected” functionality, no matter how often Maxis claims it’s necessary and helpful, makes SimCity similar to any number of massively multiplayer online titles in that it is largely reliant on servers being functional. If too many people attempt to access a server at once (read: the exact thing that happens the first day a new, big-name game is released), it will crash, preventing anyone from enjoying SimCity. Hopefully EA is aware of this inevitability and has some very qualified techies ready to snuff any fires that might break out.

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Earnest Cavalli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Earnest Cavalli has been writing about games, tech and digital culture since 2005 for outlets including Wired, Joystiq…
‘The Sims’ creator Will Wright calls ‘SimCity’ launch debacle ‘inexcusable’

The Sims creator Will Wright called the debacle surrounding the recent launch of EA's new SimCity title "inexcusable" in a new interview with "I could have predicted—I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff. That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same." He then went on to say that he enjoys playing the game, and he feels bad for the team behind it.
Wright created The Sims, SimCity, and Spore, and he founded the studio that built them all: Maxis (now EA Maxis). He left Electronic Arts in 2009 and later formed a startup development studio called Stupid Fun Club. His latest venture is Syntertainment, a startup that "lives at the intersection of entertainment and reality."
Wright also had plenty to say about the game industry in general, declaring that developers have yet to realize games' full potential. "Relative to what we have as a medium, with what we could be doing with it, we're falling way short," he said. As business models and the medium itself continue to evolve, Wright said "the future is becoming less predictable."
Check out the full GamesIndustry article for more of Wright's thoughts on the future of the industry and the state of things at EA.

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Disgruntled SimCity players may find the game they’re looking for in classrooms

SimCity, the new edition of Will Wright, Maxis, and Electronic Arts’ foundational simulation series, has overcome some of its growing pains over the past couple of weeks. Players can at least connect to the game’s servers so they can actually play it now, so there's that. Yet even as players find ways to bend the game to suit their desires—offline, solo play is a specific lure—EA is staunchly unapologetic about its divisive game. It’s offered a free game to compensate frustrated customers, but it’s never said sorry, and it remains wholly committed to SimCity. In fact, EA is now pushing the game not just to players looking to build a fake city, but educators helping shape the real life city builders of tomorrow.
GlassLab, an education-based games initiative backed by EA, Institute of Play, the ESA, and others including some funded by the Gates Foundation, opened SimCity EDU in beta this month alongside the new game. SimCityEDU is a website, community, and resource for teachers that use SimCity in science, technology, economics, civics, engineering, and math classes. The idea is that lesson plans and other resources can be shared between different educators, hopefully encouraging innovative use of the game as a teaching tool.
EA first announced SimCityEDU in January. Over the weekend, the site began updating with test lesson plans. The Monday test, “Prueba L&D,” for example is laid out with sections for the course description, as well as goals for the class. In this example, the goal is to use SimCity for grammar lessons.
On the one hand, SimCity is an excellent teaching tool, at least in its classic modes like SimCity 2000 and SimCity 4. Those games encourage everything from basic problem solving to complex math skills (in things like maintaining a budget). It can even, depending on restrictions set by the teacher, be used to teach ethical forms of government. The city can thrive if a player exerts dictatorial control over its revenue streams, but the unhappiness of the Sim citizens can be used to demonstrate why that’s wrong.
EA hasn’t revealed yet how SimCityEDU will interact with the newly released SimCity. EA Government Affair’s Craig Hagen said in January that EA would let teachers use modified versions of the new game. Anyone unsatisfied with the commercially released version of SimCity might find the game they’re looking for in education-based editions.

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There is a way to play SimCity offline and to increase city size, sort of

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EA’s comment on these debug features? “EA does not comment on rumor and speculation.”
Source: Reddit via Eurogamer

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