SimCity 4

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SimCity 4
SimCity 4 cover
macOS (OS X) i5works[1][2]
Electronic Arts
OS X Aspyr Media
Release dates
Windows January 14, 2003
macOS (OS X) June 30, 2003
Metacritic 84
Monetization Expansion pack
Modes Singleplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives Bird's-eye view
Controls Point and select
Genres Building, Simulation
Themes Contemporary
Series SimCity
SimCity 4 on HowLongToBeat
SimCity 4 on IGDB
SimCity 4 guide on StrategyWiki
SimCity 4 on MobyGames
SimCity 4 on Wikipedia
Subseries of Sim
SimCity (1989) 1989
SimCity 2000 1994
SimCity 2000 Network Edition 1996
SimCopter 1996
Streets of SimCity 1997
SimCity 3000 1999
SimCity 4 2003
SimCity Societies 2007
SimCity (2013) 2013

Key points

SC4Launcher by Keiron Morris and NAM: Network Addon Mod are both highly recommended.
Enable most fixes by using the SC4Launcher/Combined launch options, and then enabling Borderless fullscreen windowed.
Large modding community.
Performance issues on more modern systems.
The OS X port suffers many problems.
The version offered on the Origin Store/EA Play is missing critical patches from shortly after the game's release, and because of its altered checksum, it is not possible to patch this version of the game.

General information

sc4modds - full list of mods from /r/SimCity community.
SimCity 4 on the SimCity Wiki
Simtropolis Forum
SC4 Devotion Forum Community Discussions for game series Support Page
Steam Community Discussions


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD key
SafeDisc DRM[Note 1]. Released on 2 CDs.
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Deluxe Edition.
Green Man Gaming
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Deluxe Edition.
macOS (OS X)
Mac App Store
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Deluxe Edition. OS X-Only 2014 Re-Release with modifications to improve compatibility.
macOS (OS X)
Deluxe Edition. Included with EA Play. Locked to Version 1.1.610, cannot be patched.
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Deluxe Edition. Includes 2014 OS X re-release. Included with EA Play (Steam).
macOS (OS X) (unavailable)
Deluxe Edition. Download (DRM-free) or retail (Disk key).
SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows Vista and later (see above for affected versions).
It is recommended to only use Deluxe version which includes the Rush Hour expansion pack, as this has the highest compatibility with mods and other fixes.[5]
Retail keys can be redeemed on Origin.[6][7]

DLC and expansion packs

Name Notes
Rush Hour Included in the Deluxe Edition.
macOS (OS X)

Essential improvements[edit]


  • The latest official patches for the base game (v272) and Rush Hour (v638 and v640) are available on GameFront and
Patch 641 is exclusive to the Steam and GOG versions of the Deluxe Edition.

Large Address Aware[edit]

Improves stability on systems with at least 3GB RAM by allowing the application to use more than 2GB RAM.

Skip intro videos[edit]

Target line to skip intro videos[citation needed]

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options: -intro:off

Launching game on modern systems[edit]


Launcher utility that can be installed.
Combines autosaving (customisable intervals), renderer choice (DirectX, Software, OpenGL), CPU priority, single CPU affinity, widescreen resolution, windowed, borderless-windowed, skip intro videos, simple mod manager and an ATI/AMD graphics card fix into a single launcher program.

Combined launch options[edit]

Single line of code to be added to 'Target' field of the shortcut or to Steam launch options.
Combines widescreen resolution, windowed, single CPU affinity, skip intro videos.
Combined launch options reference[citation needed]

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options: -CustomResolution:enabled -r1920x1080x32 -w -CPUCount:1 -intro:off


Also use ShiftWindow in order to enable Borderless fullscreen windowed mode for seamless alt+tabbing and fullscreen view.

NAM: Network Addon Mod[edit]

Extensively reworks of the road system, improves traffic simulator, path-finding and performance.
Not compatible with Origin Store version or EA Play, since Origin reverted their retail copies back to an unpatchable edition of Version 1.1.610. The NAM requires at least Version 1.1.638.[8]

SC4Fix: Third Party Patches[edit]

A third party DLL that fixes hard-coded bugs and crashes like the infamous 'prop pox' bug[9] and crashes when hovering NAM puzzle pieces.
Helps revive and repair cities affected by the 'prop pox' bug.

Game data[edit]

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\SimCity 4\
macOS (OS X)
Steam Play (Linux) <Steam-folder>/steamapps/compatdata/24780/pfx/[Note 2]

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\SimCity 4\Regions\
macOS (OS X) ~/Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/
Steam Play (Linux) <Steam-folder>/steamapps/compatdata/24780/pfx/[Note 2]
Beware of issues when using multiple duplicate cities.

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy
Requires enabling backup of the Documents folder in OneDrive on all computers.
Steam Cloud


Graphics settings.
Graphics settings.
Gameplay settings.
Gameplay settings.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
See Widescreen resolution.
See the WSGF entry.
4K Ultra HD
Game crashes on startup when running on a resolution higher than 1080p (hardware mode)
Field of view (FOV)
Uses an Orthographic Projection camera, rendering FOV modification pointless.
See Windowed.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Working using ShiftWindow.[10]
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
60 FPS and 120+ FPS

Widescreen resolution[edit]

The version has this done automatically.
Target line to enable widescreen resolution[11]

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut, add (for 1920x1080) or add to Steam launch options: -CustomResolution:enabled -r1920x1080x32

Using DxWrapper it's possible to play at resolutions beyond the 2048x1152 limit that DirectX 7 has.


Target line to set windowed mode[citation needed]

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options: -w

To reverse back to fullscreen mode, it may be necessary to replace the launch options with: -f


Keyboard and mouse State Notes
See Remapping.
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Controller support
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.


Hotkeys and similar key bindings are stored in plaintext KEYCFG files in simcity_1.dat. A tool like Ilive Reader must be used to edit these.


Audio settings.
Audio settings.

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Music and General Sound sliders
Surround sound
Up to 7.0 output.[12]
No speech.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost


Language choice determines display language and which side of the road cars drive on.
The language can be forced if needed but only if the release being used includes that language (see Change language).
Language UI Audio Sub Notes
Some releases also include UK English (cars drive on the left).
European retail and release.
European retail and release.
European retail and release.
European retail and release.
Brazilian Portuguese
Local retail only.
Traditional Chinese
Chinese retail only.
Simplified Chinese
Chinese retail only.
Korean retail only.
Japanese retail and Steam OS X versions only.
Thai retail only.

Issues unresolved[edit]

OS X and Intel CPU major flaws[edit]

Major flaws when operating on computers by Apple using Intel processors.
Aspyr released a beta of a patch to fix the problems in 2007, but the patch was never finalized and many bugs remain. Some have a serious impact on playability, including frequent crashes if a city exceeds 95,000 population, flawed display of the water surface, frequent blurring or replacement of objects with random other objects, and an inability to significantly accelerate the vehicle in driving mode that prevents many gameplay features from being unlocked. Another patch arrived in 2014, followed by a patch to that in 2015.
OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and later can render the game completely unplayable, even with the later patches. Running the Windows version in Wine or a Virtual Machine, or the original Mac release on a PowerPC Mac generally gives a more convenient and reliable result.
It is unknown in the later patches from 2014, 2015 and 2020 (added 64-bit support) fixed the major bugs described here with this port.

Integer overflow[edit]

An integer overflow bug is also present in the game. Under certain conditions, the Junior Sports Program and Parks and Recreation expense items will be a negative value - thus adding to the end of month balance instead of reducing it.

Issues fixed[edit]

Crashes on multi-core systems[edit]

Single CPU affinity[13]
May reduce performance.

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options:-CPUCount:1

Menu option to enable software renderer[citation needed]
May reduce performance and visual fidelity.
  1. Run SimCity 4.
  2. Go to the video settings menu.
  3. Under "Renderer", check "Software".
  4. Restart SimCity 4.
Target line to enable software renderer[citation needed]
May reduce performance and visual fidelity.

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options: -d:Software

Poor performance on modern systems[edit]

Running SimCity 4 on modern systems may result in large performance problems.
Add GPU device ID to list of recognised cards[14][15]
Be sure the installation of SimCity 4 is updated to the latest version. Updating it afterwards will remove the fix.
This fix enables hardware acceleration.
This can all by automated/simplified by using the Graphic Rules Maker. (Supports Sims 2 and Simcity 4)
  1. Download, install and run GPU-Z.
  2. Copy down what is listed as the "Device ID" as well as the card's name.
    1. The "Device ID" is a number that identifies your card, as well as who makes it.
    2. For example, if 10DE-1086 is the Device ID, 0x10DE identifies the card's vendor, and 0x1086 identifies your card.
  3. Locate your SimCity 4 installation.
  4. Within the installation folder, open "Graphics Rules.sgr" with the text editor of your choice.
  5. Locate the line partialRule "Fast card" -any within the file
  6. Add your own card's name in the list, separating the vendor and the card with asterisks.
    1. For example, stringMatch cardIdentity "ATI*HD 4800 Series*"
  7. Save and close the file.
  8. In the same folder, open "Video Cards.sgr" with the text editor of your choice.
  9. Locate the header featuring your card's vendor (and vendor ID).
  10. Add your card in under the header, preferably in numerical order.
    1. For example, card 0x1086 "Nvidia GeForce GTX 560"
    2. Don't forget to preface your card ID with the "0x"
  11. Save and close the file.
  12. Open SimCity 4.
  13. Enter the video options menu.
  14. Check "Hardware" under the "Rendering" header.

This may fix your problems in-game. If not, try messing with some of the graphics options in-game. If none of these options work, you may have to resort to using Software rendering, in order to achieve a playable experience.

If you are using an AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics card, also implement Details disappear when scrolling.

Industrial high-tech (I-H) missing jobs[edit]

Every I-H lot in the game does not offer high wealth jobs even though it creates a demand for high wealth residents.
IH Missing Jobs Fix[16]

Download and install IH Missing Jobs Fix.

Error message: "Could not initialize graphics card"[edit]

SimCity 4 may crash on startup while reporting an error that claims that SimCity 4 was unable to initialize the graphics card, this may occur when using a hardware-accelerated rendering mode and a non-standard resolution. Changing the rendering mode to "software" or changing the resolution to one of the supported resolutions (800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200) should resolve this issue.

Details disappear when scrolling[edit]

On some AMD/ATI graphics cards users may find that scrolling the view will cause entities and details to temporarily disappear, including lots appearing completely empty until scrolling stops.
Repair Radeon 7000 Series detection[14][15]
Be sure the installation of SimCity 4 is updated to the latest version. Updating it afterwards will remove the fix.
This fix removes outdated compatibility options that impair performance.
  1. Open GraphicsRules.sgr in the installation folder in any text editor.
  2. Search for the line stringMatch cardIdentity "*7?00*"
  3. Modify the line so it reads stringMatch cardIdentity "*Radeon 7?00*"

This will stop your modern card from triggering a compatibility check designed for the original Radeon 7000 series, forcing settings that make the game perform badly.

Alternatively, this can be resolved by installing the SC4Launcher Utility. Once installed, run the launcher and navigate to the 'Hardware & Audio' tab. Enable the option 'Force Draw on Scroll' by checking the tick box. This should resolve the issue completely and will remain fixed regardless of whether the game is started with this custom launcher or through running the normal SimCity 4 executable.

Other information[edit]


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 7
DirectDraw 7
Software renderer
ExecutablePPC 32-bit 64-bit Notes
macOS (OS X)
A patch to support Intel chips released in 2007, but due to major problems it is not recommended.
A 64-bit update was released in February 2020.

Duplicate cities moved[edit]

If two or more copies of the same city exist in the Region folder upon starting SimCity 4, the game uses only one version and the other city copies are either deleted or automatically moved to the Downloads folder.
SimCity 4 determines which file to use by sorting the city file names alphabetically and taking the first entry.
If you have copies of cities in your region folder, e.g. "City - TEST 1.sc4" "City - TEST 2.sc4", then only "City - TEST 1.sc4" will be kept, and "City - TEST 2.sc4"either get deleted or will be moved to the Downloads folder

Launch options[edit]

More parameters can be found via this link. Please be aware that if you use the -UserDir parameter, changes made in any ingame options may not be saved properly.

Change language[edit]

Language choice determines display language and which side of the road cars drive on.
Supported languages sets include:
  • English and Spanish (North American version)
  • UK English, French, German, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish (European version)
  • Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese (Chinese version)
  • Korean (Korean version)
  • Japanese (Japanese version)
  • Thai (Thailand version)

The availability of these sets depends on where the game was purchased, or where the purchaser's billing address states in the case of Digital Distribution.

Change language through launch options[17][18]

If running retail or Origin version, set the 'Target' field of the shortcut or add to Steam launch options:

-l:english or -l:french, etc.


UK English, Norwegian and Portuguese sets use shortened versions of their names: UKEnglsh, Norwgian and Portgese respectively.
Change language through regedit[19]

A detailed guide can be found on the SimCity Devotion thread by RippleJet.

The game also recognises Czech, Hebrew, Greek and Russian, however no official translations were ever released and no community translations have been made, possibly due to lack of compatible font sets.


Mods may require dependencies.

Mod resources[edit]

Simtropolis - an extremely active modding community, hosts the ST/Exchange (SimTropolisEXchange).
SC4 Devotion - a very active modding community, hosts the LEX (Lot Exchange).
Thread listing all possible settings and customisations

Mod recommendations[edit]

sc4modds - full list of mods from /r/SimCity community.
Reddit thread - September 17, 2012
Reddit thread - January 22, 2012

Colossus Addon Mod (CAM)[edit]

A significant and popular mod developed by the community at SC4 Devotion.
Rewrites and improves how cities and regions grow by including more 'lots' or building transition stages, and increases population density.
Compatible with NAM: Network Addon Mod - when installing CAM, select 'no traffic simulator'.[20]


  • SimCity 4 Auto Saver - autosave program for SimCity 4 that will automatically save your game while you play, superseded by the SC4Launcher.
  • SC4Terraformer - this is a widely used tool that can render custom maps designed and built within the program.
  • SC4DataNode - this is a tool that checks your plugins folder, analyzes it, and tells you if any mods are missing dependencies.

System requirements[edit]

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 98, ME, 2000, XP
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium III 500 MHz or equivalent
System memory (RAM) 128 MB
256 MB (XP)
Hard disk drive (HDD) 1 GB
Video card (GPU) 32 MB of VRAM
DirectX 7.0 compatible
macOS (OS X)
Operating system (OS) 10.8.5
Processor (CPU) Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz
System memory (RAM) 4 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 2 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8800 series
ATI Radeon HD 3870
Intel HD Graphics 3000
256 MB of VRAM


  1. SafeDisc retail DRM does not work on Windows 10[3] or Windows 11 and is disabled by default on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 when the KB3086255 update is installed.[4]
  2. 2.0 2.1 File/folder structure within this directory reflects the path(s) listed for Windows and/or Steam game data (use Wine regedit to access Windows registry paths). Games with Steam Cloud support may store data in ~/.steam/steam/userdata/<user-id>/24780/ in addition to or instead of this directory. The app ID (24780) may differ in some cases. Treat backslashes as forward slashes. See the glossary page for details.


  1. Aspyr: SimCity 4 now in duplication - Macworld - last accessed on 2016-7-23
  2. Inside Mac Games Review: SimCity 4 - last accessed on 2016-7-23
  3. Not Loading in Windows 10; this will break thousands of - Microsoft Community - last accessed on 2017-01-16
  4. Microsoft - MS15-097: Description of the security update for the graphics component in Windows: September 8, 2015 - last accessed on 2018-02-16
  7. You can actually activate some Steam games on EA Origin - Steam Users' Forums
  8. PSA: SimCity 4 Deluxe is now safe to buy on Origin | SimTarkus - SimCity 4
  9. Prop Pox and Prop Theory
  10. Verified by User:Andytizer on March 12, 2013
  12. PC Gaming Surround Sound Round-up
  13. this tutorial
  14. 14.0 14.1
  15. 15.0 15.1
  21. SimCity™ 4: Deluxe Edition - Aspyr