IBM Launches Its Version of SimCity

Virtual city planning is fun–and can help you save the planet. That’s the goal of CityOne, a new game from the mind of IBM.

IBM CityOne


Virtual city planning is fun; just ask anyone who has spent hours entranced by Will Wright’s classic game, SimCity. That’s why it isn’t just professional urban planners who will be excited to see CityOne, IBM’s new city simulation game. It’s intended to help officials, agencies, and developers solve real-world problems ripped from the headlines–such as climate change, electrical grid management, banking and retail supply chain crises. In total, there are more than 100 scenarios in the game.

Unlike SimCity and its sequels, which allowed players to start from scratch, CityOne lets you navigate a fully-formed city. It makes sense–in the real world, city planners don’t usually get to build new landscapes from the ground up. They have to deal with already-messy realities.

A sample scenario, courtesy of IBM:


Water Crisis Management: A city is struggling as water usage
increases twice as fast as the population, supplies are becoming
strained and possibly polluted, and the municipality is losing almost
half of its water through leaky pipes. On top of all that, energy costs
continue to rise. To complete the mission, players must come up with a
way to deliver the highest water quality at the lowest cost in

The free game is proving to be popular. Over 8,000 people have pre-registered since it was announced in May, and hundreds of players across the globe have started playing since CityOne launched on Monday.

Can we harness our love of games to make real change? Decide for yourself–CityOne is available here.


Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more