This is big. Really big. A source at Maxis has come out and said that SimCity does not require server-side computations to run. If it's true, this Maxis source has demonstrated that EA's marketing team has been lying to its customers.
Let's play a quick round of catch-up before we get into the meat of the story.
The new SimCity has forced online multiplayer. There is no offline mode. Essentially, the way EA explains it, all of the simulation calculations are done on servers so that clients don't have to handle the load. Everything is server based, according to EA and Maxis' collective PR.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw essentially explained that offline play simply isn't possible:
"With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn't be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team."
Since that interview, people have gone assuming that offline play wasn't designed to work in the game. People have assumed, as they were told by EA, that the Glassbox Engine relies entirely on the cloud to make the game work.
Now, a source from Maxis stepped up to PC gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun to debunk the idea that the game can't be played offline. The anonymous source said this, exactly:
"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing. They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they're doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they're not doing anything. I have no idea why they're claiming otherwise. It's possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I'm clueless."
If this is legitimate, and RPS says they've verified their source, it's huge. As for the intense work Bradshaw said would be required to get the game offline? Here's the source again:
"It wouldn't take very much engineering to give you a limited single-player game without all the nifty region stuff."