Electronic Arts has announced that its Maxis label is back, with plans to release a new SimCity game based on the home-brew GlassBox engine some time next year.
First released back in 1989, SimCity was the game that launched a franchise. Following the success of the city building epic, multiple Sim-themed titles including SimCopter, SimPark, SimGolf, and SimTower appeared along with sequels SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4.
The success of the Sim prefix would also give rise to EA's most successful property to date: The Sims, a zoomed-in view of SimCity in which the player controls a single family of Sim inhabitants. While not as strategic as the SimCity series, the micromanagement game won enough fans that EA has been milking the series ever since with increasingly bizarre expansion packs.
Now, however, EA is allowing Maxis to return to its roots with a true SimCity game, and while details are currently scant it's sounding like an epic undertaking.
'We'd like to thank the millions of fans who have helped make SimCity synonymous with the city-building genre. This is a franchise that means the world to us at Maxis and we're happy to be bringing it back home where we are reimagining it for an entirely new generation of players,
' Lucy Bradshaw, senior vice president at EA-owned Maxis, told attendees at the Games Developers Conference.
'Using our proprietary GlassBox Engine, SimCity for PC will equip players with the tools to play the most sophisticated simulation of its kind. We are dedicated to making sure the experience – no matter the platform – has the fun, flavour and playability that has been intrinsic to the franchise since its birth.
That last point may raise alarm bells: while EA has thus far only confirmed the new SimCity for a PC release, mention of ensuring that the simulation will be accessible on other platforms suggests a console launch is also on the cards. It wouldn't be the first time: SimCity was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System, while a follow-up for the Nintendo 64DD - dubbed SimCity 64 - was released exclusively in Japan. The game has also been ported to Nintendo's DS hand-held console.
EA is, naturally, talking up the potential of its next-generation reboot: it claims that decisions will have far-reaching repercussions extending far beyond the limits of the simulated city, thanks to multiplayer functionality and social networking integration that will see players team up to tackle real-world issues like climate change, natural disasters and ever-dwindling natural resources.
Maxis, for its part, is talking up the potential of the GlassBox game engine, which it claims allows a far deeper level of simulation than has previously been possible. The city's population will be simulated down to the individual level, it claims, with Sims able to find and lose jobs and build their own homes.
A short teaser video
has been released, while EA is hoping to earn some cash even at this early stage of development by offering a pre-order via its Origin digital distribution service with bonus SimCity Heroes & Villains content in which players participate in a battle between Maxis Man and arch-enemy Evil Dr. Vu.