Home / Tech / Cities: Skylines’s robust modding scene and DLC keeps making the best city builder even better

Cities: Skylines’s robust modding scene and DLC keeps making the best city builder even better

I’ve never really thought about parking lots, and that’s a problem. I mean, who does? I’m sure it’s someone’s job to design parking lots—to optimize the space to fit as many cars as possible, to pick out those tiny saplings that one day will shade the lucky few who get to park underneath, to decide whether the spaces will run parallel or diagonal. It’s not my job though, and now I’m at a loss. I’ve spent the last half-hour in Cities: Skylines trying to plan out a parking lot for a combination PetSmart-Trader Joes-Office Max-Wells Fargo, and it’s not going great.

I’m fascinated though. By suburbs.

That’s the latest evolution in my love affair with Cities: Skylines. Suburbs are so boring, so sterile, but that in itself is a challenge. Trying to recreate those generic strips of American big-box retail, the dumpsters and shopping carts and the inevitable fast food restaurant out front, requires an entirely different set of skills from the flashy bright-lights-big-city layouts I’m used to attempting.

The fact I’m still tinkering with Cities: Skylines ($30 on Steam) nearly three years on from release is testament to its quality though. At release, it was the best city builder. In 2018, it’s even better—the result of smart development choices by Colossal Order and one of the most active modding communities I’ve ever seen.


Paradox’s DLC strategy is controversial, to say the least. In many ways, Paradox predicted the current “Games as a Service” trend—a near-constant stream of post-release DLC, with certain smaller features given away to players for free. That model permeates most of Paradox’s published titles, from Crusader Kings II to Europa Universalis IV to Stellaris and so on.

Cities: Skylines - Modded IDG / Hayden Dingman

Some players love it, some don’t. Paradox is a microcosm for the industry-wide “Games as a Service” debate, with some happy to have a reason to keep playing the games they already bought and love. Others lament the trend, reminiscing about a mythical time when games didn’t want to squeeze as much money out of players as possible. And I can sympathize. Even as someone that doesn’t mind Paradox’s setup, I’ll admit it’s intimidating when you go to purchase a game and realize there are 40-plus different add-ons to sift through too, trying to discern what’s important to buy and what’s not.

That said, Cities: Skylines is the most successful implementation of Paradox’s model—so successful, in fact, that 2018’s Cities: Skylines feels like its own sequel. And it hinges on a key choice.

There are two ways to monetize a city builder: You can release expansions with new buildings or release new features. The former path would seem to be easier, and indeed it’s the model EA followed with 2013’s disastrous SimCity reboot. EA clearly made SimCity expecting to sell people new buildings, both down the line and at launch. British landmarks, French landmarks, and more were available early in SimCity’s lifespan.

About Ldonjibson

Check Also

All five Myst games are being rereleased for Myst’s 25th anniversary

Hot on the heels of last week’s Firmament announcement, today Cyan teased another project in the works. 2018 is, of course, the 25th anniversary of Myst, and it looks like Cyan’s preparing...something. Hard to say what, exactly, but something.March 17 update: There’s news, of sorts. According to a new post...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *