Polygon has a great article detailing the rise of Cities:Skylines along with the fall of SimCity. They go through the ups and downs of the company CEO right about the time they were to pitch Cities:Skylines, which had the wind taken out of its sails when EA announced plans to bring out a new version of SimCity.
I’ve played Cities in Motion and have really enjoyed it, but never got the chance to put the time into it to learn the game dynamics and what it expects you to do to succeed. Having been a life long SimCity fan, from the original version on a PC, the core game dynamics are familiar to me and I can easily get a successful city up and going in a day or two. I will say that the Cities in Motion depth, realism, and graphics are much better than SimCity.
Having recently purchased the Mac version of the new SimCity, they added some really nice gameplay features but have ruined it in so many other ways. They have brought this bit of The Sims mentality to it. The way you create the city now makes no sense. You can expand hospitals and add ambulances, but there seem to be no rhyme or reason as to how many or what it covers. This goes directly against every other version where it would cover a zone and so long as you were covered you were fine. It is gameplay changes like this that force you to relearn how to succeed at the game and if I’m going to have to relearn gameplay, why not move to a better game?
The Modding Scene
One other thing mentioned in the article that makes Cities:Skylines so interesting is the fact that it is moddable. You can add new buildings, gameplay, etc. A stark contrast to SimCity which is insanely locked down and near impossible to do anything with unless EA decides to sell add-on packs for worthless downloads at a stupid price. There is even a former SimCity graphic designer that is making a living creating new building mods for this game as reported by ArsTechinica.
I have to say I do wonder if Cities:Skylines has a demo or trial as I’m intrigued by it and the reviews and buzz I’ve heard online. Maybe this is the one to pull me away from one of my favorite game franchises of all time (Not that I ever have time to play anymore).