Understanding Demand, Desirability and Abandonment
or "What the heck do they want, how do I give it to them, and why did they leave!?"
In SimCity 4, demand is your sims’ desire for certain buildings, not so much for certain zones. Zoning will satisfy demand, but you still need to control what type of buildings are built in the zones. Knowing the desirability of the area will help you predict what will likely emerge. Each building that emerges will satisfy part of your demand, and reduce one of your RCI bars. Let’s look at each of the RCI’s.
1.) Residential Demand
2.) Commercial & Industrial Demand
3.) Controlling Demand
4.) Demand Cap
5.) Dynamics of Desirability and Demand
6.) Raising Desirability
7.) Negative Demand and Abandonment
Residential demand means there is a need for a workforce population in your city, i.e. your C’s and I’s need people to work there. Satisfy residential demand by zoning residential. A common misconception is that players often mistake the three kinds of residential density for the three kinds of residential wealths.
As a quick aside to clear this up: When you zone residential, you have a choice of Low-, Medium- or High-Density. This does not mean that only low-wealth, medium-wealth, or high-wealth sims will move into low medium or high density zones. You can have a high-wealth sim living in a low-density zone (such as a large Mansion and lots of luxury props). You can have low-wealth sim living in a high-density zone (such as tenements or apartment buildings). You can, to an extent, predict and control what level of wealth sim will move into your zone, by referring to desirability of the area. More on that a little later.
So, residential demand essentially means you need a workforce. Now take a look at the C and I graphs. If you see demand for IA (agriculture) or ID (dirty industry) or CS§ (commercial service, low-wealth), you know that low-wealth residents are needed. IA and ID only require low-wealth sims to work there (they do not need medium- or high-wealth sims) so, zone some residential in an area that is most desirable to low-wealth sims; i.e., almost anywhere.
Say you have demand for Co§§ (Commercial office, medium-wealth). It is important to note that anything other than IA or ID or CS§, requires a mix of low-, medium- and high-wealth sims. In the case of Co§§, you need some low-wealth sims, a lot of medium-wealth sims, and some high-wealth sims to satisfy that particular demand. Just be mindful that anything higher than IA, ID or CS§ requires more than one wealth-type of sim.
So how do you know if R§ or R§§ or R§§§ will show up when you zone residential? Use the desirability data view, check to see where the brightest green spots are for R§§ and R§§§ and zone there. (R§ will pretty much live anywhere.) Should you zone low medium or high density? That’s something you need to judge. If you need a lot of a particular sim, zone high density - if you can afford it. If not, zone medium or lots of low.
Also, level of wealth is directly correlated to level of education. In other words, the more rich the sim, the smarter he tends to be when he starts out (his EQ is higher). Use education to increase your sim’s EQ rating so they can qualify for higher ranking jobs and move up on the wealth scale. Even if you move completely away from ID, IA or CS§, you still need a small proportion of R§ low-wealth sims for your Commercial offices or High-tech industries (think of them as janitors or secretaries, every business needs them).
Commercial & Industrial Demand
Commercial and industrial demand is the need of your sims to have employment. When C or I is high, it means sims need jobs in those sectors. Satisfy your sims’ desire for jobs by zoning the appropriate C or I. Again, as for residential, you can only zone for different densities, not for different types. If there is demand for Co§§ (Commercial office, medium wealth), look to your desirability data view to find the best spots for Co§§ and zone there. As demand for business increases, so will demand for residents. The cyclic nature of RCI is important to grasp. As more jobs are needed, more residents will be required, and as more residents arrive, more jobs will be needed. Also, non-RCI buildings such as (museums, hotels, city hall, etc) will also affect your demand by providing jobs and increasing the demand for more workforce.
There are several ways to control and curb demand, the most prominent and direct way is through taxes. Shrewd adjusting of tax rates will help you encourage or discourage the demand types. Punish dirty industry by raising taxes for Industrial § for example (although agriculture falls in the category of Industrial §, it never pays taxes so its demand is not directly affected). Keep in mind that raising taxes to discourage demand will continue to have a negative impact on that demand type for several months, even if you lower taxes immediately. Any negative effect will last a minimum of 3 months.
You can indirectly control demand by providing or not providing the necessary facilities for your sims to evolve, such as health or education. Remember, everything is connected; good health coverage increases desirability which entices richer sims to move in. Educated sims will want to move up to more sophisticated and better paying jobs. If you don’t have the educated workers, you won’t have much more than demand for just ID, IA or Cs§ jobs. Ordinances also affect demand. Clean Air Act, Tourism Promotion, Water Conservation, etc, will have some affect, read about each ordinance to find out how they affect each type of demand.
A demand cap is an upper limit on demand that you will hit once you reach a certain population level. You may be doing all you can to encourage growth, but there just isn’t any demand. To alleviate this cap, make connections to neighbors, place parks and other recreation for your sims. Airports and seaports help raise demand caps for commercial and industry.
Dynamics of Desirability and Demand
Areas of land can be desirable to more than one type of developer when you zone. Which one emerges there depends on the current demand. If you have high demand for IHT (industrial high tech), if you zone without much forethought, you may not see any high tech emerge but dirty industry or manufacturing instead. The reason for this is likely desirability; you’ve zoned in an undesirable location for high-tech, possibly too near to pollution, to far from residential in a low land-value area.
Checking desirable areas for High Tech industries
The following factors are considered when desirability is calculated: pollution levels, crime, commute or freight times, garbage, health coverage, education coverage, slopes, radiation, traffic volume, and land value (land value increases on higher ground and/or near water or trees). Again, always refer to your desirability data view when zoning for a specific type of demand.
Residential desirability is fairly straight-forward, they want things any living sim would want. Good education and health coverage (shown in green in your data view), low pollution, low commute times to work, low crime, and low garbage levels. Being near a positive influence structure, such as a beach, mayor’s statue, or park will also increase the desirability of that plot of land. Conversely, negative structures such as landfills and army bases will make it less desirable.
Commercial desirability can differ depending on the commercial type. For instance, Cs (Commercial service) likes to be near residential, so proximity to a residential area is taken into account when desirability is calculated. Co (Commercial office) however, does not care too much about being near residential, but prefers to be near other commercial offices. Both Cs and Co like to be near residential sims and other commercial offices of the same wealth levels, respectively. The distances to residential or other commercial offices affect the desirability of the lots they are on; so the further away a Commercial service is to a residential area, the lower the desirability.
Industry has an altogether different set of desirability factors. ID (dirty industry), doesn’t care too much about being near pollution as it generates plenty on its own. ID most importantly cares for short freight trip times and flat land. IM (manufacturing industry) also mainly care for short freight trips and flat land to build on, but, unlike ID, IM dislikes pollution. IHT (High tech industry) cannot tolerate any air pollution at all, so they’ll never likely build next to your dirty industries. IHT have similar desirability requirements as Commercial office and residential; they like parks, low pollution, and short trip lengths to airports or seaports or a neighbor connection. IA (agriculture) will mainly want clean air, low traffic and flat land to develop happily, so keep them in remote clean areas of your map; it not only keeps them happy, it keeps their water pollution - of which they generate plenty - from creeping into your sim’s taps.
Negative Demand and Abandonment
Try to avoid getting a negative demand for any of the RCI types, this is shown by a bar dropping beneath the equilibrium line. Negative demand means there is an abundance of that developer type, R, C, or I. Though completely avoiding negative demand for the entire life of your city may be nearly impossible, it will happen at one time or another, you’ll need to understand why it has happened so you can go about remedying the problem, or avoiding it in the future.
Negative commercial and industrial demand;
there are more jobs than sims
There are numerous situations that can arise that can send one of your RCI’s plunging. For example, if you have high commercial demand one moment (sims need more jobs in the commercial sector), and you start zoning for commercial, and then something happens to your residential demand, the result will be insufficient workers to fulfill the new commercial openings. Your commercial will dry up, and buildings will become abandoned.
Abandoned buildings due to lack of power for extended length of time.
As an aside: Abandoned buildings are not only an eye-sore, they are highly flammable, have increased crime and don’t pay taxes. Other reasons for abandonment other than negative demand are lack of utilities, water and power, lack of jobs or road access. If a building lacks any of these for a length of time, their occupants will vacate.
Inversely, if you have high residential demand (commercial or industry requiring more workers) and you zone more residential and then your industry bottoms out, you’ll end up with more workers than jobs. The result is that excess sims move out of your city (something you do not want to happen!), and demand balance will gradually be restored.
Be careful when developing new sectors, over-development could hurt you. Try to under-develop, don’t zone more than you need to keep demand from plummeting into the negative.
We’ve only looked at the surface of two of the many factors that affect a sim city, demand and desirability. Remember, that everything is inter-related somehow, and to try to describe one thing without touching on another is nearly impossible for full comprehension.
Understanding demand and how demand is satisfied is a key concept in beginning to understand how your city works, which in turn, helps you develop the kind of city you want. The more you understand, the more sense of control you have over the destiny of your city, and the less you feel like sitting in the passenger seat wondering what’s going to happen next.