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SimCity is one of the most famous management sim franchises of all time. Originally created by Will Wright after he realised that creating maps in his game Raid on Bungeling Bay was more enjoyable than actually playing the game, SimCity went on to conquer the world, spawning several sequels and becoming one of the most widely-enjoyed city-building games ever made. It’s also spawned a legion of imitators, perhaps the most famous of which is Paradox’s Cities: Skylines, which some gamers prefer to the latest iterations of SimCity.
Even though SimCity is so huge, many gamers still don’t understand everything about the franchise. Some of its most important mechanics are hidden behind esoteric qualifiers or conditions that some players might never find, and that others might only find after a lot of searching around. One of these mechanics is high-tech industry, which effectively refers to any industry that isn’t polluting and that is composed largely of tech businesses and other “clean” industry alternatives within the game. So, how do you get high tech industry in SimCity? Read on to find out!
Raise “dirty industry” tax
Depending on the version of SimCity you’re playing, you should be able to raise tax on “dirty industry” (that’s industry that is highly polluting) in order to attract more “clean industry”, or high tech industry, to your city. In SimCity 4, for example, you can do this by entering the taxation menu, finding the Dirty Industry option, and hiking the tax rate. This should stop dirty low tech industry from entering your city and incentivise high tech industry more heavily, meaning you’re more likely to get that kind of industry in your city.
Increase rail coverage near industry
High tech industry should also be drawn to your city if you increase the amount of rail coverage near industrial areas. This should draw less polluting industry to your city, because businesses will likely ignore your city if you don’t have good travel coverage near industrial areas. You should also consider building sea and air travel routes in your city, as this is another thing that can draw high-tech industry to you. Make sure that you build the seaports and airports of your city close to places where people can actually access them!
Education, education, education
You can increase the chances of high tech industry coming to your city by making sure that you have good education coverage. This means building universities and other educational buildings within reach of all of your city’s districts, so that people can raise their level of education and thus the level of tech in your industry. If you don’t have good educational options, you’ll likely find the amount of polluting low tech industry will increase, which won’t be good for your city’s overall level of happiness.
Don’t raise tax on clean industry
Just like you can raise the tax rate for dirty industry, you can lower the tax rate for high tech industry. Naturally, you should do this, because lower taxes will attract more high tech businesses to your city, and you’ll see your industrial districts transform as a result. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t set the business tax rate above around 10% for any business type you want to attract and retain in your SimCity 4 city, because doing so means that they’ll almost certainly leave. That’s another reason to raise the dirty industry tax level!
Keep air pollution low
Air pollution is a huge factor in whether or not high tech industry decides to settle in your town in SimCity 4. Make sure that you’re keeping air pollution as low as possible, because the higher your level of air pollution, the more likely high tech industry businesses will simply avoid your industrial districts. Sometimes, you might even need to make entirely new industrial areas for high tech businesses when your air pollution level is too high. Try to ensure you have robust programs in place to keep your pollution levels down.
Unlock the spaceport
Once you’ve unlocked the spaceport in SimCity, you’ll notice that high tech industry comes flocking to your city with unprecedented enthusiasm. The reason for that should be obvious; after all, you’ve just unlocked space travel! Unlocking the spaceport is technically quicker than using the methods we’ve outlined above, but it’s also more difficult, so if you want to do this, you will either need to be playing the game on hard mode or complete several train missions if you’re playing on the Deluxe version (or the Rush Hour version) of the game.
Which version of SimCity should I play?
This is the golden question. SimCity as a franchise has arguably been overtaken by Cities: Skylines in many gamers’ minds, so if you’re looking for the best modern city builder, that’s almost certainly the option you should take. If, however, you’re absolutely determined to play SimCity, here’s our ranking of the games as they currently stand, from worst to best – and we’d love to put a future Sim City on the list, although there is nothing announced in this area yet. Note that we’re not including spinoffs or mobile games, like SimCity BuildIt or SimCity Societies, here; only the main entries.
As it stands right now, the SimCity reboot, which was released in 2013, is just…fine. When it launched, however, it was an insult to fans of the series, with its always-online requirements and constantly broken, glitchy engine. It’s safe to avoid this one.
The original SimCity is still a great game by the standards of its time, but it’s arguably aged quite poorly thanks to its primitive visuals and relative lack of features compared to more modern instalments.
You can still have a great time with SimCity 2000 if you’re willing to overlook its relatively basic presentation. This is where SimCity really started to come into its own.
SimCity 4 is almost inarguably one of the best city builders ever made. Its visuals are sharp and crisp, its simulation gameplay is excellent, and it would be the finest instalment in its series if it weren’t for the next game in this list.
If you want to play SimCity in the modern gaming age, then SimCity 3000 is still your best bet. It might not be a particularly beautiful game by modern standards, but it still offers the best balance between accessibility and oceanic management sim depth.