SimCity 4

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
SimCity 4
SimCity 4 cover
OS X Aspyr Media
Electronic Arts
Release dates
Windows January 14, 2003
OS X June 20, 2003
SimCity 1989
SimCity 2000 1994
SimCity 2000 Network Edition 1996
SimCopter 1996
Streets of SimCity 1997
SimCity 3000 1999
SimCity 4 2003
SimCity 4: Rush Hour
SimCity Societies 2007
SimCity Societies: Destinations
SimCity (2013) 2013
SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow

Key points

SC4Launcher 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.
Performance issues on more modern systems.
The OS X port suffers many problems.

General information

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


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Retail DRM: SafeDisc Deluxe Edition. Download (DRM-free) or retail (Disk key).
GamersGate Deluxe Edition. Deluxe Edition.
Green Man Gaming Deluxe Edition.
Mac App Store Deluxe Edition. OS X-Only 2014 Re-Release with modifications to improve compatibility.
Origin Deluxe Edition.
Steam Deluxe Edition. Includes 2014 OS X Re-Release.
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.[1]
Retail keys can be redeemed on Origin.[2][3]

Essential improvements[edit]


EA hosts one all-encompassing update that includes all patch fixes for all retail versions of the game (digital distribution versions have their own patches).

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

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

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.
Compatible with all available versions, since Origin version is now patched.[4]

Game data[edit]

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
Windows %USERPROFILE%\Documents\SimCity 4\Regions\
OS X ~/Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/
Beware of issues when using multiple duplicate cities.

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes
Steam Cloud

Video settings[edit]

Graphics option Option WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
See Widescreen resolution.
Field of view (FOV)
Uses an Orthographic Projection camera, rendering FOV modification pointless.
See Windowed.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Working using ShiftWindow.[5]
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
Anti-aliasing (AA)
Vertical sync (Vsync)
60 FPS
120+ FPS

Widescreen resolution[edit]

Target line to enable widescreen resolution[6]

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


Target line to set windowed mode

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

Input settings[edit]


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[edit]

Audio options Native Notes
Separate volume controls
Music and General Sound sliders
Surround sound
Up to 7.0 output.[7]
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 CC Notes
Some releases also include UK English (cars drive on the left).
European retail and release.
European retail only.
European retail only.
European 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.
OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) can render the game completely unplayable, even with the 2007 patch. Running the Windows version in Wine or a Virtual Machine generally gives a more convenient and reliable result.

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[8]
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
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
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[9][10]
Be sure your installation of SimCity 4 is updated to the latest version. Updating it afterwards will remove the fix.
This fix enables hardware acceleration.
  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 root 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[11]

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[9][10]
Be sure your 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 the file GraphicsRules.sgr in the game's root 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
64-bit executable

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[12]

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[13]

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 - a very 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'.[14]


  • 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) Pentium III 500 MHz or equivalent 1 GHz or faster
System memory (RAM) 128 MB (256 MB for XP) 256 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 1 GB hard drive space
Video card (GPU) DirectX 7.0 compatible
32 of VRAM


  4. PSA: SimCity 4 Deluxe is now safe to buy on Origin | SimTarkus - SimCity 4
  5. Tested by Andytizer March 12, 2013
  7. PC Gaming Surround Sound Round-up
  8. this tutorial
  9. 9.0 9.1
  10. 10.0 10.1