Electronic Arts has confirmed, via a Games For Windows magazine cover, that major Maxis franchise SimCity will be getting a new version, named SimCity Societies, to be handled by Caesar IV developer Tilted Mill Entertainment.
According to a new report by consumer website 1UP citing the cover story in the July issue of the (also Ziff Davis-published) Games for Windows magazine, the upcoming fifth game in the series will abandon the franchise's naming conventions by adopting the title SimCity Societies.
According to the report, the game will feature a new take on the established and popular series when it debuts for the PC this winter - believed to involve a greater concentration on human interaction within the cities of the title, rather than concentrating solely on city-building itself.
Following the announcement, the shift in developers has resulted in a volatile response from the player community, with Tilted Mill's own president and director of development Chris Beatrice issuing an official response in a thread on the company's forums:
"...I do not want to mislead anyone: This SimCity is not a realistic urban simulation, which I understand, to many, represents the heart of what SC is," he said. "No one is blind to that. And if you're just completely turned off, even angered by the mere notion of any game called 'SimCity' that is not a detailed, realistic urban simulator, I absolutely understand that viewpoint, and absolutely respect it."
"I do want to say, though (with no insult intended to die hard SC fans)," he adds, "that we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this venerable series, are extremely proud of what we have put together, and make no apologies about what we have managed to create. And while our past experiences (including contributions from many of you) certainly inform all our ongoing efforts, this SC is its own unique creation."
Tilted Mill, which is based in Framingham, MA, was formed in 2002 by veterans of strategy developer Impressions, and has since developed PC strategy titles including Immortal Cities: Children Of The Nile for Myelin Media/Sega, and Caesar IV for Vivendi.
[UPDATE: Tilted Mill's Beatrice has made a more in-depth post to his website's official forums, explaining that, while he cannot comment in detail pending events likely to include Electronic Arts' official announcement of the game, he can say the following:
"I must make it crystal clear that, like all SimCity games, this game is a city-building game. It is a city-building simulation. It is a city simulation. It is an urban simulation game. It is a game in which you build cities. Its focus is not on realism and detail (but that's not to say it lacks those things either)."]