SimCity's "always-online requirement" may have irritated consumers at launch, but by most accounts anyone that reads this or any other gaming web site was well aware that the game would require a constant Internet connection in order to play (EA made that fact clear quite awhile ago). But while EA Maxis is taking heat for not creating a single-player SimCity (a right that most would argue they have as artists), the one group that has gotten a free pass are retailers who did not do the best job of disclosing the fact that the game requires a broadband connection in order to play.
A search of several prominent retailers with an online presence (including EA's own digital distribution service Origin) reveals that only two of them disclosed the fact that the game needs a broadband connection in order to play.
Best Buy and Amazon.com were the only retailers selling the game that disclosed this fact in their specs:
Minimum PC System Requirements
PC Processor Type AMD Athlon™ 64 x2 Dual Core 4000+ processor, Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor
PC Processor Speed 2GHz
PC Operating System Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
PC System Memory 2GB RAM
PC Hard Drive Space 10GB
PC Video 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 or better/NVIDIA 7800 or better/Intel® HD Graphics or better video card
PC Drive Type and Speed DVD
PC Additional Requirements Broadband Internet with minimum 256 Kbps download and 64 Kbps upload, support for Shader 3.0 or better
Every other site we searched including GameStop, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Fry's Electronics, J&R, OfficeMax, Newegg, and even Origin did not disclose this fact.
Generally these specifications read something like what is below - from GameStop (or the sites didn't offer any requirement details at all):
Operating System Windows® XP / Vista / 7
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz or better Processor
RAM: 1.5 GB Available System Memory XP; 2 GB Vista / 7 (PCs using a built-in graphical chipset are recommended to have 2 GB) Video Card: ATI X1800, NVIDIA 7800, or Intel 4100 Integrated Graphics, 256 MB Video Card w/ Shader Model 3.0
While we can debate the idea of games being "always online" even when playing the single-player component, it is clear that there was a serious lack of disclosure on the part of retailers that SimCity was unplayable without a minimum broadband connection.
As for the physical retail box itself, a representative from a local GameStop tells us that the box notes in its requirements that a "persistent Internet connection is required to play."