Origin “Nerfed” SimCity 4 Situation Gets Worse

The latest chapter of the saga with Origin’s retail copy of SimCity 4 Deluxe has taken a rather troubling turn.  The initial reports of Origin reverting back to selling their special “nerfed” Version 1.1.610 copy of the game to retail customers who bought the game from EA’s official digital download surface have now spread like a rash across Simtropolis.  These reports have not only been spawned by the well-documented issue of this version of the game not being able to take advantage of some popular custom content, like the Network Addon Mod (which requires Version 1.1.638 or later), but reports of the game regularly crashing to desktop.

This is not at all surprising, given the patch notes from when EA/Maxis issued the Version 1.1.638 patch (also known as EP1 Update 1), back in November 2003.  Here’s the full list–I’ve bolded the ones related to game stability:

    • Adjusted foam spray effect for firefighters fighting toxic spills.
    • Addressed issues related to U-Drive it mode while volcano disaster is active.
    • Fix for random issues that may arise when dragging a diagonal power line across zones in specific manner that creates a connected orphan pole in a segment.
    • Renderer updates to avoid memory corruption when model instance has an invalid position.
    • Updates to paths to improve clipper that was transforming stop points into single-point paths.
    • Video card improvements for the following:
        Intel i830/845/865: Fixed graphics rules to allow hardware and to disable color cursor.
    • Addressed issues related to burning tree stump.
    • Fix for airplane sometimes taxiing above the airfield.
    • Implemented safety code for query.
    • Fix for relatively obscure problems that occur when moving vans are created on a tile with a complex paths.
    • Implemented a general-purpose fix for any remaining yet-to-be-discovered cases of a bad orientation vector.
    • Fix for issue where networks loaded from a saved city would not properly re-initialize their connection bitmap.
    • Updated Localized strings.
    • Updates for My Sim messaging. The issues would arise when moving a My Sim out of a city at just the right time.
    • Fix for reported location of sky diving mission.
    • Fix for query incorrectly reporting trip length after abandonment.
    • Fix for incorrectly reported commute time during inter-city travel.
    • Path fixes for various networks and intersections.
    • Texture fixes for several one-way/avenue intersections.
    • Fix for several network intersection resolves.
    • Improved usage of parking lots and transit stations.
    • Improved synching of foundation vs. building height.
    • Improved variety of industry building development.
    • Fix for intercity commute where bus traffic was periodically being treated as car traffic.
    • Fix for being able to drop highway ramps over buildings.
    • Adjusted toll booth capacities for 2-tile wide toll booths.
    • Fix for prevention of pedestrians from using neighbor connections.
    • Fix for elevated train volume not being reported in the traffic volume graph.
    • Fix for commercial traffic and road noise map calculations to accommodate multi-tile morning and evening commutes.
    • Added left turn lanes to avenue/highway overpass onramps.
    • Fix for priorities of props and textures in lot templates used in city detail.
    • Fix for variety of path bugs related to roads, rails, highways, avenues and elevated rail.

Some of these other ones are pretty big functional things as well–the transportation network-related fixes, which, as you can see, are quite numerous are a large part of the reason the Network Addon Mod requires the user to be running at least Version 1.1.638.  It is, of course, also missing the Version 1.1.640 update, which allows nightlights to function properly on the thousands of custom buildings that the SimCity 4 community has created for the game.  The copies sold on GOG.com and Steam, as well as the “Thin Game Download” version from Amazon, are all at an even higher version number, 1.1.641, and include all the fixes from Version 1.1.638 and 1.1.640.  Those who have redeemed CD keys from their old disc copies with Origin, have, oddly enough, also reportedly gotten Version 1.1.641, unlike the users who have shelled out the seemingly steep price of $19.99 (the same price at which Origin sells the 2013 “reboot” of SimCity, and only $10 less than Cities: Skylines) to buy the game off the service.

Based on the information that has come out, it appears the current “nerfed” Version 1.1.610 copy that Origin is selling has a creation date of November 13, 2015.  All screenshots that have been provided by users in this latest round have carried that particular date.  This suggests that Origin actually reverted to the “nerfed” version as far back as a year-and-a-half ago, meaning there may be a large number of cases that have gone undiagnosed as of yet.  The fact that they are starting to spread like wildfire from new members to the community suggests we are only at the tip of the iceberg here.

The most troubling aspect of the current situation is the fact that Origin has been apparently reverting updated copies purchased through their service to the special “nerfed” Version 1.1.610.  The initial case that brought this whole situation back to the fore involved a user, RichardCollins, who, after having to do a system restore, found his Origin copy had reverted to 1.1.610.  More recently, another Simtropolis member reported that his Origin copy, after installing an “update” from the service, had gone from Version 1.1.638 to 1.1.610.  That’s right, an update that actually does just the opposite.

What is possessing Origin to continually go back to this “nerfed” version is unclear, and ultimately, it does not matter if their reason is simply staggering incompetence, or actual malicious intent.  What does matter is that SimCity 4 players who buy the game off Origin are currently getting ripped off, by being sold a game that is missing 14-year-old stability fixes, and compatibility with one of its biggest selling features–its modding community.

It is almost as if EA wants to lose the city simulation market to Paradox/Colossal Order and Cities: Skylines, which is a real shame–and completely counterintuitive.  While the 2013 reboot of “SimCity” may have been a money-losing debacle, which led to EA laying off most of the Maxis Emeryville studio, they still have a game in their portfolio that, in spite of being almost old enough to drive, is actually considered by many (including yours truly) to still be a better game than the much newer Cities: Skylines.

The main lesson of this–don’t buy SimCity 4 Deluxe on Origin.  I will repeat that one until Origin shows consistent, documented proof over time that they can be trusted (read: no more “let’s break out the crappy Version 1.1.610 copy now that Tarkus and PC Gamer aren’t looking” nonsense).  If you have made that mistake of buying–complain, and try to get a refund and/or force them to actually give you the properly-patched version of the game you paid for, that every other retailer on earth sells.




11 Responses to Origin “Nerfed” SimCity 4 Situation Gets Worse

  1. Pingback: Why the NAM Has a Version Check, and Why Old NAM Versions Are Not Offered | SimTarkus - SimCity 4

  2. Stormscape says:

    So I recently installed the Origin version, knowing nothing about the on-going debacle with them (I had redeemed it years ago as a free game on Origin, so I paid $0 for it), and when it installed, it installed 1.1.641. This was on February 12th, 2018. Either they finally figured it out, or it’s another case of them flipflopping again.

    • Tarkus says:

      Did you by chance do the redemption through having an old CD key and contacting Origin support? Strangely, they’ve always given people who have done that Version 1.1.641 . . . it’s the people who have been paying $19.99 to buy it off the Origin Store who have been getting 1.1.610. If they’ve finally flipped back to giving the latter 1.1.641, that’d be welcome news, and I’d be curious to hear from more Origin SC4 users.


      • Leonard Massey says:

        Yes there back to giving you the 1.1.610 when you get it from Origin. I bought it on Feb 23rd or the 24th and it was the old version. Had the run-around with Origin about why I didn’t get the up-dated version and all I could get out of them was they don’t support Mod’s, I told them it wasn’t a Mod issue it was a game issue.

        Contacted Origin on the 24th and demanded the give me a refund for selling me an out dated version of the game, and I was able to get a re-fund (will be watching my Bank Acct. to see if they do).

        Purchased the up-dated version from GOG and it works the way I wanted to play the game.

  3. I hate to say this, but three different times I spent money for the same game. The first time was for SC4 + RH. However, something happened to the SC4 disk, so I got the SC4 deluxe disk later on. Again, because of the stupid Windows 10, in order to play SC4, last Sunday I decided to get Origin’s SC4 deluxe instead of Steam’s copy. The news of Origin’s deliberately screwing customers with this game is infuriating to me, because just ONE time should be sufficient to buy any game. I do not know if I want to get Steam’s version…..

    • Tarkus says:

      Sorry to hear of your Microsoft and EA/Origin-induced SC4 woes, Michael. The whole Win 10-forced “re-buying”, Origin’s (at best) ineptitude, and Steam’s failure to properly notify users of the need for the -CPUCount:1 switch on multi-core systems have really put a big hit on the whole SC4 community–which is really unfortunate, given that some of the best SC4 content is being produced right now. If you can, try to see if you can get a refund out of Origin–the more people who get their money back, the more likely they might actually realize it doesn’t pay to keep screwing people.

      After that, should you be up for one last re-buy, GOG.com has the best and last copy of SC4 anyone will ever need to buy–DRM-free, pre-patched to 1.1.641, and with the -CPUCount parameter already in place–and it’s on sale for US$4.99 cheaper than Origin until the 18th of this month.


  4. Sebby says:

    I just purchased the game on Origin in May 2021, they are still selling the 1.1.610.0 version of the game. I only found this out a couple of days after buying the game and installing all my mods. Now they won’t refund because it’s been too long. Unbelievable that this is still happening years later.

  5. crosimmer says:

    I might be late to the conversation, but I somehow managed to secure myself the updated version of SimCity 4 (1.1.641) on Origin. I registered the game using my CD key from the retail box back in July 2014, and the game seems to have survived the “fix” and its “reversion”.
    My latest installation is from April this year, the game is still fully patched, and it doesn’t even require an Origin login. That at least confirms EA still has a patched version on their servers, ready to download by the lucky ones who managed to snatch it.

    • Tarkus says:

      Hi crosimmer–the Origin “CD Key” version is a curious special case. Everything I’ve heard from users who have obtained their copy that way has suggested it’s always been 1.1.641 and has survived the nonsense that’s happened with the Origin Store version. Those of you who got it that way are indeed lucky. You also brought up an interesting point about it not requiring login. That might explain part of why Origin isn’t offering that particular copy on the Origin Store, since that would mean it’s DRM-free (like the GOG version). But the fact that they once had a non-1.1.610 version for that brief window after I embarrassed them in 2014 up until November 2015 suggests they, at least at one point, had a non-nerfed version with the Origin DRM built into it. It’s not like 1.1.641 can’t have DRM added to it–see the Steam version, plus Origin is effectively a first-party distributor. Provided EA still has the code around, they have access to it, which makes this all that much more bizarre. It’s all a very strange and unfortunate situation with the Origin Store copy, for certain.


  6. Nick says:

    Around November of 2019 I purchased a copy from Origin, I had all kinds of problems with the game CTD and after finding out about their horrible record, is when I discovered the incorrect version was sold to me. I called customer service and was treated like a criminal trying to cheat them. They told me they do not provide the version and they have no control over it. They told me this story about the nerfed copy was bogus and did not want to listen to me. I had the worst customer service experience EVER. I was talked over and interrupted the whole time and even yelled at. I was told I don’t know what I am talking about. I hung up on them a few times, it was that bad. They called back and kept it up. I told them never to call back again. But they did, and that time, my brother broke his finger and need help. Since no one answered the phone, they marked my complaint as closed, unable to contact. WTF, I will NEVER deal with that company again. They stole my money and gave me a incomplete copy that is unplayable. Origin are thieves in my book, we are just a pay check to them. Take it from me, avoid Origin at all cost!

    • Tarkus says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Nick–that really sounds like a horrible experience with Origin Support, and I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can’t say I’m not surprised, given that most of the stories I’ve heard of people trying to report getting “nerfed” copies have usually resulted in Origin Support trying to deny/deflect the fact that their copy is missing critical patches, all the more ridiculous given that they (a) apparently had a patched version once upon a time, and (b) they’re effectively a first-party distributor. When they did fix it the last time, I actually had contact with an engineer with Origin, who said he would fix it (which he promptly did–until Origin unfixed it for some unknown reason), so there are indeed people within Origin who do have control over which version they distribute.


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