SimCityBoy, I'm stupid.
We've been asking for months why EA would do this. Why would they make a game that was so different, when they didn't need to? The game would have been staggeringly successful without making it a bastardized online experience. One that didn't even work very well. It's undoubtedly less successful than it could have been with fewer changes to the experience.
Companies don't do things for no reason. Sometimes it's the right reason, sometimes not, but there's always a reason.
Why would you take this risk? Well, you wouldn't. Is the revenue model for this new version of SimCity substantially better than previous versions? No, except for the DLC that is in every game now. And what about the cost of the online infrastructure? Good grief, that might make the revenue model worse, not better.
Remember, though, there's a reason. The reason is that this isn't an end in itself. It's a means to an end.
Lucy Bradshaw, in March, said "In many ways, we built an MMO." Yes, and the next time, they'll build a game that is in every way an MMO. This half-crippled, satisfies-no-one version is just a bridge to a full-fledged MMO.
With a monthly fee.
Now that's a revenue model. A revenue model with a long tail. That's something that captures EA's vision of the future.