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SimCity 4

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
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 One-time game purchase, Expansion pack, Cross-game bonus, Subscription gaming service
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

SimCity 4 is a singleplayer bird's-eye view building and simulation game in the SimCity series.

The game received the Rush Hour expansion pack in September 2003, and the two products would be bundled as the Deluxe Edition in retail and digital stores. The Steam and releases of the Deluxe Edition would receive additional compatibility tweaks, but the Origin/EA App release would use an obsolete build until June 2023, when it was synchronized with the other digital versions.[3]

The game was designed only with a single processor core in mind, and running on multi-core processors crashes the game on startup unless a command line argument forcing single-core affinity is used. Additionally, the hardware renderer performs poorly on present-day systems, requiring manual hardware recognition changes or falling back to the software renderer.

General information

Simtropolis Forum
SC4 Devotion Forum
/r/simcity4 subreddit
SimCity 4 on the SimCity Wiki 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.
Icon overlay.png
macOS (OS X)
Deluxe Edition.
Green Man Gaming
Icon overlay.png
Deluxe Edition. Incorrectly states it is incompatible with newer macOS versions.[6]
macOS (OS X)
Mac App Store
Icon overlay.png
Deluxe Edition. 2014 re-release with modifications to improve compatibility.
macOS (OS X)
Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store
Deluxe Edition. Included exclusively with Xbox Game Pass for PC as part of its version of EA Play.
Deluxe Edition. Included with EA Play.
Manual link for EA App purchase.
Icon overlay.png
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).
Retail keys can be redeemed on Origin.[7][8]
A faithful, higher quality icon can be found on SteamGridDB.

Version differences

The Deluxe Edition which includes the base game and the Rush Hour expansion pack, and has the highest compatibility with mods and other fixes.[9] Steam and versions also have additional tweaks applied.


Type Notes
Cross-game bonus Characters from The Sims 1 can be imported to fill the streets.
Expansion pack The expansion pack includes disasters, customization options, vehicle control mode and related missions, and new transportation options.
One-time game purchase The game requires an upfront purchase to access.
Subscription gaming service Available via EA Play.

DLC and expansion packs

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

Essential improvements


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 digital versions of the Deluxe Edition.

Skip intro videos

Run the game with the -intro:off command line argument[10]

Launching game on modern systems


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.

Large Address Aware

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

Combined launch options

Single line of code to be added to 'Target' field of the shortcut or to digital client launch options.
Combines widescreen resolution, windowed, single CPU affinity, skip intro videos.
Use the following set of command line arguments: -CustomResolution:enabled -r1920x1080x32 -w -CPUCount:1 -intro:off[10]


Also use ShiftWindow in order to enable Borderless fullscreen windowed mode for seamless Alt+Tab -ing and fullscreen view.

NAM: Network Addon Mod

Extensively reworks the road system, improves traffic simulator, pathfinding and performance.
Requires at least version 1.1.638; digital releases are compatible by default.[11]

SC4Fix: Third Party Patches

A third party DLL that fixes hard-coded bugs and crashes like the infamous 'prop pox' bug[12] and crashes when hovering NAM puzzle pieces.
Helps revive and repair cities affected by the 'prop pox' bug.

Experiencing issues on Apple ARM devices

When running the default variant of the game on Steam on Apple ARM hardware, users may encounter issues. Aspyr officially released a new version that added native Apple ARM support on January 12, 2023.[13]
The Mac App Store version updates automatically to this new version when appropriate since update 1.2.2.[14]
Steam: switch to Apple ARM branch[15]
Old MacOS-port is still available as the default option on Steam, requiring Apple ARM users to switch to a Steam Beta branch to acquire the update.
  1. In the Steam Library, right-click on SimCity 4 Deluxe.
  2. Click on Properties
  3. Click on Beta.
  4. Type applesilicon into the beta access code field.
  5. Click on Check Code.
  6. Click on Opt-in.
  7. Wait for the app to update.

Save Warning

Visually alters the UI button labels for Save and Exit (and Save and Quit), to highlight the risk of using this one-step method.
Two options are included. The first option disables that choice completely. The second simply renames the buttons, but continues to perform the same function as before.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

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

Save game data location

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\SimCity 4\Regions\
macOS (OS X) $HOME/Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/
Mac App Store $HOME/Library/Containers/com.aspyr.simcity4.appstore/Data/Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/
Steam Play (Linux) <SteamLibrary-folder>/steamapps/compatdata/24780/pfx/[Note 2]
Beware of issues when using multiple duplicate cities.

Save game cloud syncing

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy
Requires enabling backup of the Documents folder in OneDrive on all computers.
Steam Cloud
Xbox 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
Hardware rendering (DirectX/OpenGL) for any resolution above 2048x1152 will cause crashing on launch. For software rendering see SC4Launcher.
Field of view (FOV)
Uses an Orthographic Projection camera, rendering FOV modification pointless.
See Windowed.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Working using ShiftWindow.[16]
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
High dynamic range display (HDR)

Widescreen resolution

The version has this done automatically.
Run the game with the followind command line arguments: -CustomResolution:enabled -r1920x1080x32[17]
By using DxWrapper, it is possible to play at resolutions beyond the 2048x1152 limit that DirectX 7 has.


Run the game with the -w command line argument (or -f to revert)[10]



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.[18]
No intelligible dialog. All in-game dialog uses the fictional Simlish language.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
Royalty free audio


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).
Simplified Chinese
Chinese retail only.
Traditional Chinese
Chinese retail only.
European retail and release.
Japanese retail and Steam OS X versions only.
Korean retail only.
European retail and release.
European retail and release. For other releases use this guide.
Brazilian Portuguese
Local retail, European retail and release.
Thai retail only.

Issues unresolved

OS X and Intel CPU major flaws

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

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

Crashes on multi-core systems

Single CPU affinity[19]
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

Running SimCity 4 on modern systems may result in large performance problems.
Add GPU device ID to list of recognised cards[20][21]
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 the card, as well as the manufacturer.
    2. For example, if 10DE-1086 is the Device ID, 0x10DE identifies the card's vendor, and 0x1086 identifies the card.
  3. Within the game's installation folder, open Graphics Rules.sgr with a text editor.
  4. Locate the line partialRule "Fast card" -any within the file
  5. 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*"
  6. Save and close the file.
  7. In the same folder, open Video Cards.sgr with the text editor of your choice.
  8. Locate the header featuring the card's vendor (and vendor ID).
  9. 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"
  10. Save and close the file.
  11. Open SimCity 4.
  12. Enter the video options menu.
  13. Check "Hardware" under the "Rendering" header.

This may fix your problems in-game. If not, try experimenting with some of the graphics options in-game. If none of these options work, use 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.

Error message: "Could not initialize graphics card"

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

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[20][21]
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 with a 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 the 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


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 7
DirectDraw 7.0
Software renderer
ExecutablePPC 32-bit 64-bitARM Notes
macOS (OS X)
Original MacOS port: a patch to support Intel chips released in 2007, but due to major problems it is not recommended.
2014 re-release: 64-bit support was added on February 19, 2020. Native ARM support was added on January 12, 2023..

Duplicate cities moved

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 copies of cities in the same region folder exist, e.g. City - TEST 1.sc4 and City - TEST 2.sc4, then only City - TEST 1.sc4 will be kept, and City - TEST 2.sc4 will either get deleted or will be moved to the Downloads folder.

Launch options

More command line arguments can be found on SC4Devotion. Please be aware that by using the -UserDir argument, changes made in any in-game options may not be saved properly.

Change language

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[22][23]

-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[24]

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

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

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

Colossus Addon Mod (CAM)

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.


SimCity 4 Auto Saver - autosave program for SimCity 4 that will automatically save the game while playing; 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 the plugins folder, analyzes it, and reports if any mods are missing dependencies.


Texture Fix of Jenkins Consulting - fixes invisible textures on the sides of "Jenkins Consulting" building.
R$$ Traffic Noise Fix - fixes a bug where R$$ buildings show "High" Traffic Noise although very little traffic is nearby.
UV Map Fix for Maxis Monorail Models - fixes texture positioning for the Maxis monorail models.
Fire Plane UDI Mission Fix - fixes Fire Plane UDI mission so it is possible to obtain a Zoo as reward as it should be from start.
All 3 CityHalls Modd Reward Fix - fixes all CityHalls to appear in the game at separate intervals as rewards. It is an older mod that may be superseded by a much more recent one.
Carpool Incentive Program Ordinance Fix - fixes bugged ordinance (which, unmodded, has no effect on pollution or traffic) by applying a 10% reduction in pollution caused by traffic.
Piggyback Freight Car Fix - fixes positioning for the Freights on the rails.
Space Port Fix - fixes a problem with the default Maxis Space Port, which claims it "Provides a boost to high-tech industry" however, it does not. Maxis forgot to include this boost, therefore it boosts nothing but costs and some slight commercial desirability.
HippoTank Demand Fix - fixes the demand values for the Medical Clinic, Solar Power Plant, Nuclear Power Plant.
IH Missing $$$ Jobs Fix - fixes IH lots, so they offer 12% $$$ jobs instead of the originally designed but missing 10% $$$ jobs, reducing $$ jobs by 2% to 78% at the same time so the sum remains 100%. Comes with the CAM mod.
Diagonal Jagged Edges Fix - changes the way the game renders cliffs to make certain diagonal roads look more natural. The tradeoff is that more "cliffs" will show in the terrain. When installing this mod, only use one of the provided .dat files. This mod may conflict with other terrain mods.
Area 5.1 Air Force Base No Exclusion Fix - allows both Area 5.1 and the Air Force Base to be built in the same city. (This may have been an intentional restriction, and may not technically be a bug.) Requires the appropriate Maxis Landmark Building to be installed.
Opera House Fix - fixes the Opera House's capacity.

System requirements

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[4] 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.[5]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Notes regarding Steam Play (Linux) data:


  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. Breaking News: EA Updates EA App/EA Play Version of SimCity 4 to Version 1.1.641 - last accessed on 2023-10-20
  4. Not Loading in Windows 10; this will break thousands of - Microsoft Community - last accessed on 2017-01-16
  5. Microsoft - MS15-097: Description of the security update for the graphics component in Windows: September 8, 2015 - last accessed on 2018-02-16
  6. Verified by User:Mrtnptrs on 2023-01-18
    As it is just a code you buy for the Steam version, which supports 64-bit and ARM now, it should fully work on macOS 10.15+. Just like on here, GMG probably has an automated system in place to add this warning when system requirements indicate it is 32-bit only. So, likely they forgot to update their system requirements after the 64-bit update in 2020.
  7. - last accessed on May 2023
  8. You can actually activate some Steam games on EA Origin - Steam Users' Forums - last accessed on May 2023
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Verified by User:Plok on 2022-02-15
  11. PSA: SimCity 4 Deluxe is now safe to buy on Origin | SimTarkus - SimCity 4
  12. Prop Pox and Prop Theory - last accessed on May 2023
  13. M1 Compatibility Updates - last accessed on 2023-01-18
  14. SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition- Version History - Mac App Store - last accessed on 2023-01-18
    "SimCity™ 4 Deluxe Edition is now optimized for Mac with Apple Silicon."
  15. How to access the Apple Silicon update on Mac Steam - SimCity 4: Deluxe Edition – Aspyr Support - last accessed on 2023-01-18
  16. Verified by User:Andytizer on March 12, 2013
  17. - last accessed on May 2023
  18. PC Gaming Surround Sound Round-up - last accessed on May 2023
  19. this tutorial - last accessed on May 2023
  20. 20.0 20.1
  21. 21.0 21.1
  25. SimCity™ 4: Deluxe Edition - Aspyr - last accessed on 9 June 2023