SimCity 4 Network Addon Mod maker warns against buying the game from Origin

Update: As of August 27, Origin has updated its version of SimCity 4. It is now compatible with the Network Addon Mod . Original story below.

SimCity 4 is more than ten years old, but given the relative dearth of SimCity games since it came out, it remains a popular way for fans of the franchise to get their fix. But the maker of the Network Addon Mod says gamers should be careful about where they buy it: The version of the game being offered by Origin is the unpatched retail release, and because of changes to its copy protection it cannot be updated, nor can it take full advantage of custom content and mods.

As explained on the SimCity 4 site SimTarkus , the Network Addon Mod (NAM) requires a minimum of SimCity 4 version 1.1.638, the version that results from applying the EP1 Update 1 to the retail version of the game. But the a href="">Origin version is not capable of being updated because it modified the unpatched version of the game, 1.1.610, to replace the SafeDisc copy protection with Origin's online DRM.

"This modification, however, changes the checksum of the executable, just as the NoCD hacks did, which not only causes it to be rejected by the NAM installer, it also prevents the EP1 Update 1 patch and the BAT Nightlight patch from being installed, as well as the official first-party content creation tools, like the Lot Editor and the Building Architect Tool (BAT). In effect, this forces the user to remain at Version 1.1.610, deprived not only of the full function of the wide array of custom content available for the game, but of basic fixes to the game that have been available for 10 years," NAM developer Tarkus wrote. "Origin's digital version of SimCity 4 Deluxe is not just unpatched, it's unpatchable."

Tarkus also linked to a SimTropolis forum post from earlier this month in which an EA support rep acknowledged the limitations of the Origin version of the game, but insisted that it's behaving as it's supposed to.

"The game that you bought from us is working as intended and it is not broken," the rep explained. "The reason why mods are not working on your copy is because we do not support mods for the title. And we do not support the upgrades that you want to do in game."

There is, of course, a world of difference between "we do not support" and "we do not allow," especially since virtually every other digital distributor offers a version of the game that does support mods. So while it may be working as EA intends, the bottom line is obvious: If you want to buy SimCity 4, you're probably better off buying it somewhere else. (Today, by the way, that "somewhere else" should probably be GOG : It's on sale for $8 until 11:59 pm on August 25.)

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.