Cities: Skylines (2015) vs. SimCity '5' (2013)

Build yourself a new home in two competing franchises




This week, we take a glance into two titles and one franchise highly revered by our host Nate. We discuss the (relatively) recently-released Cities: Skylines, the first proper city simulator by Finnish studio Colossal Order (previously responsible for the similar but transit-scenario-focused Cities In Motion series), and in so doing we decided to compare & contrast with Maxis' final hurrah, its much-ballyhooed SimCity.

Cities: Skylines is an open-ended city simulator designed in Unity from the ground-up to be moddable and fully support the Steam Workshop with everything from custom structures to camera mods and custom interfaces; from cel-shaded graphics, new rendering engines, and color palette tweaks to R34 Skylines that drive about your cities. Three months after release, the Workshop has 45,000 items and ex-Maxis employees on Patreon earn $700 per building they post. The quantity of content here is on the level of Simtropolis in its prime, and we consider whether the game is all the richer for it, or whether it suffers from a lack of directive - a question that turns out to be larger than simply content.

SimCity was a reboot of the SimCity franchise, a new take on what the 1989-spawned Will Wright classic was all about featuring a new spiffy rendering engine called Glassbox, social play across tiny towns, regional resource management, always-on DRM, and - relatedly - one of the most disastrous launches on record. SimCity 5, as we refer to it despite the existence of Societies, expanded on some of the interesting regional development ideas of 2003's SimCity 4 and its 2005 expansion, SimCity 4: Rush Hour. SC5 established greater goals and obstacles with mining of resources and management of supply chains all the way up through their contributions toward regional superproject goals like arcologies. SimCity was followed up by an expansion of its own, Cities of Tomorrow, which focused on developing cities vertically with modular arcologies connected to each other in the sky, a gameplay element we discuss and a sociological concept of infinite coolness.

Listen to us whinge freely about the two games as we discuss how they compare. Specific points of focus include city plot size, regional and social play, the intrusiveness of mods upon curated experiences, city design philosophies, and nuances of relationships between modding communities and community ambassadors.

Relevant links!


Will Atkinson

Esteban Santana Santana

Nate Stevens

Craig Schuemann

Derek Matthew Hendrick