What Happened to The Sims?

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This article made me adore my wife even more. She loves anything and everything Sims 3, rarely complains about it. Her innocence is so cute. I'll rue the day when it finally breaks her heart, if it ever does.

I owned the original Sims and some of the expansion packs for it, which I always found a blast, but it reached a point where there just wasn't anything left to do. I had always been there, done that, before, so I stopped playing it.

I never did get the Sims 2, so I have no idea what it was like or what was in it.

The sims 3, however, even the base game, really blew me away. I was definately impressed. I loved it, and still do. The only real qualm I ever had was that the amount of furniture/etc in the base game was a bit sparse, but the actual mechanics of the game are brilliant. For a while, I bought every EP making the game better every time. Then I realised what was happening with the stuff packs and so on - furniture and the like which in the Sims 1 would have been included in the base game, where now being sold to me no top for 10 extra. And then the latest patch shoved the Sims Store inside the game so it's difficult to avoid, where before if you so chose you could ignore it's existance. Naked commercialisation.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love The Sims 3 as a game, and I will continue to buy such expansion packs as I think will genuinely add to the game, but I am certainly done with "buying every pack they release" especially stuff packs, and I passionately object to the insertion of the Sims Store inside the game in a way that makes it so easy to accidentally spend real money, not to mention how much it tries to force you to sign up for facebook linking or some other social media rubbish (not my thing at all).

Just let me play the game already! I'll pay you more money if and when I feel that you have produced something I feel is worthwhile buying, not because you have shoved it under my nose.

If you expect EA to make The Sims 4 less of a game sold in bits and pieces then I think you have horribly misplaced hope. The Sims series is nothing BUT a game doled out in small chunks. I like the first Sims game. Second was okay. By the third I had recognized the patterns and didn't buy it.

My main problem with the sims 3 was that for a game you could do more things in than any game before it, there wasn't a lot to do. Like you said, most of the content just wasn't there, but that wasn't what I missed most.

I enjoyed the walking around town side of things. But I do architecture. I LOVE building towns and designing bridges and creating history. In the sims 1 and 2 I would spend more time building up the infinite details of these towns than I would spend in game. I find it depressing that this iteration has the weakest variety in what I want to do most.

I played with sims and built them houses around their careers and enjoyed it throughly still (I even re-created a few projects of my own in game, which helped me iron out problems in them) but I never really felt I was doing what I love most. I want to build stadiums and see people walk in and out and around them. I want to design police stations and themes and libraries for people to walk in. And I miss these aspects so much, they're the bits I love more than anything else and I miss them honestly in my gaming life more than anything else.

I made the huge mistake of buying The Sims 3 back in the day (3 years ago actually). I loved The Sims 2 and I definitely loved how meaty it was without any expansion and how every complaint I had with the first game was adressed with the second game and it added some new and neat stuff along the way!.

Sims 3 felt... empty... barebones even. What happened to the aliens?, why is my fraking sim taking so much time to do the most menial of tasks?, I wanted to give this game a chance, but it just left me incredibly dissapointed and hating the entire Sims franchise because of it.

It's still lingering in my shelf, reminding me of the huge mistake I made whenever I look a it. I'm thinking about giving it to my neece, just like I gave both Crysis games to my nephew.

I hate you EA and thanks for Mass Effect (not for Origin though).

Captcha: Tea with milk. Sounds delicious.

The Sims has always been popular in my family, both me and my mum have loved them since the beginning- they're kind of a very guilty pleasure to me, but an amazing time-sink.

I've had issues about where the Sims has been going since the second or third expansion pack for the 3rd gen. I was kind of accepting of the fact that they were basically updated versions of what you got in the previous gens, but as soon as the Sims Store reared its ugly head, I began to smell a rat. Why should I have to pay an extra 3 for an imaginary sofa set that should be in the game to begin with, when I can just get something similar from ModTheSims.info (awesome site btw) Meanwhile EA gets to slap a 15 price-tag on the expansion packs.

The last straw for me was when the Sims Store started invading the game itself, instead of just being a pop-up that appeared before you launched the game. All of a sudden, whenever you'd go to buy some furniture, extra items would appear, advertising things that you COULD own, as long as you coughed up the necessary 12 for the 2000 Sim Points you needed to buy it. The first time I noticed it, I didn't even realise it was a advert until I clicked on one and it took me to the Store. EA aren't just trying to make a little more cash, they're being crafty about it.

It's not about the content- the 'rabbit holes', the glitches, the rehashed expansion packs. All that stuff can be modded easy enough. When you've already paid your money to play the game, but the game tries luring you into buying more at every menu screen- that's a: greed, and b: selling what could pretty much be called an incomplete game for full price.

The advertising the Sims does for other companies? That's not so new. Anyone remember the IKEA stuff pack? It made a bit more sense than Katy Perry, but it was still an advert. I guess I can see the half-baked reasoning behind charging people money for what is simply an advert for Diesel or IKEA or whatever it is- "We spent money paying people to make it, so why should it be for free?". Doesn't make it right though, especially when the advert packs for the Sims 3 look really half arsed. At least the IKEA one was rammed with new furniture.

This is all obviously EA's tactic at the moment - they've done it with the Sims, they did it with Mass Effect 3, and I have absolutely no doubt they'll do it with SimCity 5. I don't think they've produced a complete, no-dlc game for a while (maybe Alice Madness Returns? Don't think that had any add-ons)

Anyhoo, I can't kick my Sims habit- no matter who is in charge of the development nowadays, I still love the games. I actually got the latest expansion a few days ago - but let's just say EA hasn't been making a profit from me for about 2 years :P

Jeremy Monken:
Sims 4 is going to be free-to-play, but in the free version you'll just be a penniless beggar, trying to get enough simoleans to eat.

Somehow, this sounds more enticing than what The Sims 3 turned out to be.

I consider myself a pretty big fan of the sims 3 in particular and while I can agree with a lot of the stuff your saying, things are starting to get better. Starting around last year The dev team seems to be filling the expansion packs a lot more content with things more people want (Katy perry editions not withstanding). The towns sold at the store are incredibly overpriced but they too have been getting better too with more thought and effort put into them. Thanks to twitter some of the producers even answer questions the fans have and acknowledge their complaints. It's just a shame that the games took two years to get to this point but i plan on sticking around and hoping sims 4 will get the bright start that the sims 3 deserved.

MasterOfHisOwnDomain:
As someone who bought The Sims 3 from its release (and bought all previous games), I found this a really good article. I've already stopped playing the original title and haven't bought any of the EPs. I've finally been broken by the lengths that the developers go to withhold content to the player.

As you rightly say, weather and seasons and a multitude of other features should be part of the original title, not continually repackaged as EPs -- they had an excuse with the The Sims 2: Seasons, because it hadn't been done up till that point. But to just release the same content with each new generation?

Exactly. EA should've had all the EP and base game content from the Sims 2 in the Sims 3 base game from the start, and the EPs for Sims 3 should have been new stuff and things that expanded on the previous stuff.

Not to mention sell the EPs for what they're actually worth. Even the best Sims 3 EPs were only added in about 1/5th of the base game's amount of content and they're sold for 4 times what they are actually worth. I liked it better when they charged $30 for their expansion packs and at least gave buyers 1000 points simpoints($10 worth) with each expansion so people felt much less ripped off.

The rabbit holes are one of worst parts though, even if the player wasn't able to affect things directly the rabbit holes should've actually shown what your sim was doing in them, instead of just showing some text boxes every few minutes. Haven't the Sims 3 development team heard of "show don't tell?" Besides, they could have made the rabbit holes stuff as involved and interesting as the world adventures tombs, the time machine especially would have been fun to do.

Now, I love the Sims 3, but I haven't gotten all the stuff packs and skipped that weird singer who's name escapes me right now's pack. There's quite a few things that they really dropped the ball on that would have been incredibly awesome, but they charge way too much for everything.

Captcha: First Post! Way too late Captcha.

I never understood why my passion for the Sims died after Sims 3's release.
Maybe something about the way the characters look? O.o

I honestly am not sure, but -something- happened, and it became really ho-hum/boring to me. Felt like... 'work''......ish
the magic died >_>

my brother plays it because he likes to play out his mass murdering fantasies

Good thing I haven't gotten this far in the franchise yet; I'm still holding my breath for Sims 2 Complete Collection. I can't be assed to buy the expansion packs separately.

Evil Smurf:
my brother plays it because he likes to play out his mass murdering fantasies

A friend of mine downloaded skins of serial killers for her sims 2 family a few years back. It was disturbing to say the least when you have Ed Gein offering jars of preserves to the neighbours.

I dont mind Sims 3, the rabbitholes are annoying but most of the expansion packs add geniune places to borrow. I didnt buy the katy perry stuff pack but i did get the katy perry showtime edition. It fits well with that and hey I like katy perry :)

Never played the Sims, but could someone explain something to me?

-'The new furniture sets available are pricey enough, but each new themed "world" for your Sims to live, work, and play in typically costs 2450 Sim Points (the store's currency), and when you consider that these can only be bought in blocks of 1000 points at $10 a block, the cost becomes eye-watering.'-

World, or furniture? I can understand a world costing $25, but just furniture?

This could finally be something to be upset with EA over.

EDIT: Never mind. Just looked at the Sims store. $25 for literally a new world, over 20 items/clothing, stuff to do, ect.

How much do hats in TF2 cost? I see something about a key costing $2.50 for what, a few hats? I really don't know, I'm just askin.

-' rare items cost ten or more dollars while common items cost less than five. '-

wut?

Aikayai:
Took me a while but ノー(iie) and EA sound the same. ノー (iie) is Japanese for no.

So they knew all along...

On topic, good article. My partner will be happy to hear that she hasn't wasted her money.

You've said "noo" in katakana there. Iie wouuld be in hiragana, and it would be いいえ.

....Sorry, I'm bored...

OT: Good article. I still have the Sims 2 on my shelf, might think of reinstalling it.

Well there's your problem . Like you said yourself , you ( and millions of other gamers ) are hypocrits . You keep feeding EA money regardless . Obvious solution is obvious .

I know there's a bandwagon of hating EA here, but why isn't Maxis getting any flack?

As the developer, shouldn't they have some input as to the way that things are implemented or created for expansions?

Granted things like 'take the weather out so we can put it in an expansion' is something an executive would say, but the Katy Perry expansion?
Why shouldn't that be good?

On the other hand, it became clear as I wrote this that everything mentioned is a marketing exercise.

The aforementioned executives would hand down instructions like 'we have a Katy Perry licence, use it. Don't care how, just makes something for the next quarter' and then, voila, crappy expansions.

/gross simplifications

It's a shame that Maxis is having to dance to the tune of suits, but what are ya gonna do? I played The Sims 2 when it came on 4 disks(!) and enjoyed the huge jump in terms of gameplay and graphics from The Sims.

At least SimCity 5 looks good...right?

MAxis was a great company. Will Wright is a phenomenal developer. However under the thumb of EA and their perplexing cruel corporate environment nothing of value or greatness can be wrung. Spore, Simcity, the Sims. And lets not bring up Mythic and bioware, or how we'll never see a Star wars battlefield 3 as Pandemic got run into the ground...

EA is a plague on our genre and self destructive and run on corporate greed. Do NOT buy their games. Do NOT use Origin.

While Sims3 had a few good ideas, Sims 2 is still better (with all of its 9 or so expansions). Yes, it does take a few DAYS to install, and don't ever expect to uninstall it, but gameplay-wise, it's great. If there was ONE thing that would get me to play Sims 3 (or Sims 4 for that matter), it would be a first person way to play the game. Otherwise, Sims 2 looks great and does the job.

And, with the risk of repeating myself "FIRST PERSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". ffs...

Sims has always been an odd beast for me. I'd start playing it, get extremely into it for a couple of weeks, then not play it for a year or so. Happens every couple of years.

Shame to see the franchise in this state. Sad to see what fans have to put up with.

orangeapples:
Don't worry Sims fans. There is a legion of people dating back to the mid 90s (and probably before) who have seen their favorite franchises destroyed by EA. You're not alone.

*cries quietly into his old Command and Conquer games*

rayen020:
MAxis was a great company. Will Wright is a phenomenal developer. However under the thumb of EA and their perplexing cruel corporate environment nothing of value or greatness can be wrung. Spore, Simcity, the Sims. And lets not bring up Mythic and bioware, or how we'll never see a Star wars battlefield 3 as Pandemic got run into the ground...

EA is a plague on our genre and self destructive and run on corporate greed. Do NOT buy their games. Do NOT use Origin.

Indeed. Though, we still would have gotten a Battlefield 3. And even Timesplitters 4!

But then... Lucasarts.

*quietly weeps into Battlefront 2 and Timesplitters 2*

My issue with the later edition of the Sims were that the expansion packs basically contained what should have been in the game in the first place.

For example in the first one they started off basic, then added holidays and pets and so on.

So you'd think that the sequel would have them things as basic and add new stuff, but no, they then create a new game that is basic, and try and add the same kind of thing via expansion again, despite the only real difference being a slight graphical change.

Then they release a third game and try the same thing again.

Good article; the Sims is not what it used to be and neither the franchise nor its fans have been treated with respect. While the article covers a lot of major issues, three things to add that weren't covered or not covered adequately:

1. Origin is also a factor. Once it came out, you needed Origin to download new stuff for the Sims--if you wanted stuff from the Store anyway. Some folks didn't want Origin, and when it first come out, its integration was clunky and--surprise surprise--caused crashes.

2. It's not the Rabbit Holes themselves, it's how they implemented them, and the potential content REMOVED because of them. If the Rabbit Holes ONLY did what you covered -- provided buildings for Sims to disappear into while they worked -- they'd be fine because they would then, indeed, be an improvement over the previous games' implementation of Sim work. BUT the Rabbit Holes ALSO replaced Sim restaurants and businesses--in previous games, you could walk into and run shops and restaurants. The Sims 3 Rabbit Holes not only represent workplaces, but also represent grocery stores, bookstores, restaurants, spas, and other buildings that in the Sims 1 and Sims 2 you could build and go inside and experience. While the World Adventures, Ambitions, and Nightlife expansions added some go-inside, fully buildable venues to a degree, never actually to the complexity or degree of previous games -- to this day, to my knowledge, you can still not build (Sims 1: Hot Date, Sims 2 Core) or have a Sim run (Sims 2: Open For Business) a proper restaurant. And it is harder to build businesses, and you cannot have playable Sims run them (something that became an expectation after the wildly popular and successful Open For Business expansion in the Sims 2). So Simmers were disappointed because the Rabbit Holes did not add content--or what they did add was very little--but that they in fact took away content that to this day has never been fully re-added, not even in expansions.

3. The issue with the "Katy Perry Expansion" wasn't the Katy Perry bits --- it was that the Sims 3 Showtime was 1/3 a repeat of Sims 3 Nightlife but this time with singers instead of bands, and 1/3 a Facebook app, and 1/3 a "social function" called SimPort which requires people to play online and hope they get people to play with them and can only unlock certain content if you use. With all the ideas for expansions that one could implement, this was sorely disappointing to say the least.

I loved all of the Sims games and I love the many innovations in the Sims 3 -- the seamless neighborhood is amazing, I love the story mode (even if that feature is very controversial amongst fans), I love the Create a Style, I LOVED the dungeon crawling and adventuring mechanic in the 1st expansion -- but even I don't buy Sims products any more. I stopped after Nightlife, which was a bit lackluster, and moreover, after I purchased items in the Sims Store which failed to properly download and install on my machine, and EA Customer Service's response was basically, in so many words, "Sucks to be you." I also didn't want to deal with Origin. I keep a close eye on it, always hoping to see if a new expansion will be released that will feel worth buying or to see if finally, finally, the game breaking bugs in the first expansion, World Adventures, will actually be fixed. But I don't expect anything -- if I never buy anything Sims again, it will not come as a surprise to me.

The thing is, since Sims is more and more churning out disgruntled customers -- it's a ripe stage for an indie developer to come up with their own take on any or all of a modern life simulator, storytelling engine, or machinima creation toolset. Even if the dissatisfied Simmers are a few thousand or million out of the many more millions of suckers who still pay for incomplete, buggy, nickel-and-diming software and thank EA for it, that few thousand or million folks would be more than enough to support a dedicated younger developer and the projects they have to come.

Chrono212:
I know there's a bandwagon of hating EA here, but why isn't Maxis getting any flack?

As the developer, shouldn't they have some input as to the way that things are implemented or created for expansions?

Maxis does not directly work on the Sims anymore, since the Sims 3 began. They have a subsidiary office the Sims Studio that work on it, and are pretty much directly under the heel of EA. There's only so much you can object to or refuse to do in that circumstance (as I think you yourself allude to).

Maxis also is pretty much nothing what it used to be -- many of its notable designers, especially Wil Wright, who created the Sims -- no longer work for it.

kiri2tsubasa:
Am I in the minority that got the first Sims game (no expansions) and found it be so boring, yet with the Sims 3, and many of the expansion packs I am having more fun then I ever had with the first in the series?

no you're not!

Sims 1 at the end of the day was an house building sim with some characters thrown it, they didn't age, and didn't really do much at all (until the later expansions)

I'vew just gotten back into the sims 3 and love the new expansion (although one of my mods is making it crash at the mo)

Well written article but honestly its not just The Sims.

Dragon Age, Mass Effect, The Sims, Command and Conquer, etc etc. The list goes on of game series that EA's philosophy, decisions and design influence have either damaged or totally ruined. Its not just The Sims, they've been building up to this for years. The most recent one being ME3 which they included day-1 DLC, apparently short deadlines resulting in rushed writing and microtransactions for MP items for an MP thing you basically HAVE to play (although in fairness paying anything is voluntary).

Many thanks for the feedback everyone, it has been very interesting reading other folks' viewpoints and experiences. Of course there was so much more that I could have said, but I would have had sore fingers by the time I was done, so I had to pick and choose what I saw as the most pressing issues.

As someone rightly pointed out, Origin is an unpleasant problem, and one which has irked me greatly (it is good to discover that I am not alone in this). I too resent having to install it as part of a patch, just to be able to continue fixing my game in the future. No wonder the install figures are so high, because it has essentially been forced on unwilling gamers in order that their games can be bug-fixed.

@DeathQuaker - You make many good points about the expansions and the rabbit holes and I quite agree. I much preferred the expansions in Sims 2, with University and Open For Business representing my favourites. As such, Sims 3: Ambitions felt like a watered down version of OFB, and with no Uni in sight, I'm more than disillusioned with Sims 3's EP roster.

@Lightspeaker - you are quite right... so many great games and, indeed, studios, have sadly been damaged, from C&C and the pending Sim City, back to Bullfrog and the now long gone Westwood Studios. As much as I lust after a sequel to Mirror's Edge, I am also afraid to see what it would end up like. With the recent news that C&C Generals 2 has now been morphed into an online game, my hope has faded immensely for the titles I'm still interested in.

I used to love the sims! Id play it for hours and hours and hours . . it might've been the reason i took summer school. But now its nowhere near the same. its just so depressing really. Downhill slopes n all.

I play Sims2 because the price for Sims3 is like 40 still (after 4 years). And expansions I dread to think.

At least with Sims2 the most I spend for an expansion is 10 which is a good deal imo.

Sid meier, Firaxis Games, make a competitor.

The problem is that they are just remaking things from previous games. They added some cool stuff like horses, fairies and acrobats, but new ideas like farms, zoos, circus, etc are needed to make the game fun again.

Also the engine can't cope with the open neighbourhood well. Save games grow bigger than 1 Gb at times and even if we don't have the loading screen, the game needs a lot of time to load. The engine needs to be remade from scratch for The Sims 4.

I think the game is getting better with expansions like Supernatural and Seasons, but this iteration could have been so much more if it didn't try to be The Sims 2 in an open neighbourhood.

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