SimCity 3000 (lost pre-release 3D version of city simulator; 1997)

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SimCity 3000 1996 logo.jpg

Beta logo

Status: Lost

In 1996, Maxis released a teaser trailer for the upcoming SimCity game SimCity 3000. It was originally going to be the first full 3D city-building simulation video game; however, due to its graphically demanding concept, Maxis management pressured development, and the game was developed for only a year. A pre-release screenshot of the original version suggests graphics similar to those seen in both SimCopter and Streets of SimCity, and was intended to include extensive micromanagement. When the game was first unveiled in the 1997 E3, it was an experience regarded as "an embarrassment." The 3D version of the game was expected to become a flop, and its future release was even thought to be the fatal blow to an already poorly performing Maxis, which had failed to release profitable titles in the years since SimCity 2000.

Only a handful screenshots of the beta version are available on the internet, along with a pitiful amount of information.

EA Acquisition and Game Changes

After EA completed their acquisition of Maxis, Luc Barthelet was assigned by EA as the new general manager of Maxis. He was troubled by the 3D SC3K, questioning the viability of a game with such graphics. Eventually, the 3D version was completely scrapped, Lucy Bradshaw was brought in from EA in November 1997 to lead the SC3K project, and a new revision based on SC2K's pseudo-isometric dimetric projection and sprite-based graphics was redeveloped from scratch. The new plan focused on retaining the core engine of the game, improving more minor features in the game instead, such as larger maps, new zoom levels, and additional gameplay parameters.

Features That Were Incarnated Into Subsequent Games

3D Engine

When Maxis was experimenting 3D graphics with SimGolf (a golf simulation game not to be confused with the Sid Meier version), SimCopter (a helicopter-based flight simulator) and Streets of SimCity (a vehicle simulation game), Maxis decided to add the three dimensional engine, however, it was completely scrapped. The full 3D engine is used in SimCity 64 (a Japan-exclusive version of SimCity for the disk-drive add-on of Nintendo 64), SimCity Societies (which uses Tilted Mill's engine), the Wii version of SimCity Creator, and the 2013 reboot of SimCity and SimCity Buildit (both which uses the Glassbox Engine).

Street Mode

The street mode from the 3D version of the game is reused in SimCity 64, SimCity 4: Rush Hour (albeit in an isometric view), SimCity Societies, and the 2013 reboot of SimCity.

Interaction to Sims

Originally the pre-release 3D version has interactions with Sims, which was predated before the 2000 Maxis game The Sims. This feature was incarnated into SimCity DS 2, a Japan-only sequel to the Nintendo DS-exclusive SimCity game SimCity DS.


Trailer of the scrapped 3D version