It's been known for a while not that the upcoming SimCity will have always-on DRM, though it won't force players to always play in multiplayer mode. That's not ideal, and it will likely only end up frustrating users, the way Diablo III's Error 37 did. If EA and Maxis can manage to provide robust support, though, the DRM is something most dedicated SimCity fans will learn to live with.
What SimCity fans might not be able to live with, however, is seeing content they believe should have come with the game locked away behind a micro-transaction paywall. A recently leaked SimCity game manual has hit the web, and NeoGAF user dmr87 spotted a section titled "SimCity Store." The section, in its entirety:
Click the banner on the main menu to enter the SimCity store. Here, you'll find special add-ons for sale. Select STORE to view the full list of additional game content (both free and paid) that can provide you with new gameplay possibilities.
That doesn't reveal much about what the store will be, but a quick overview of EA's recent business practices shows that the SimCity store will likely be similar to the store for Maxis' The Sims 3. The "Digital Deluxe Upgrade Pack," which adds European City Sets, will almost certainly be in the store on day one.
To be sure, SimCity is a type of game where a constant stream of new, inexpensive content might make sense. EA, though, is making a habit of placing in-game purchases in AAA games that might normally be considered complete. For example, Dead Space 3 will also have in-game micro-transactions for things such as weapon-crafting materials. That doesn't necessarily mean the drop rate for materials in the game has been reduced to encourage sales, but such a conflict between good gameplay and micro-transaction sales outside of the free-to-play space is worrying.