The Sims is a well-loved and very popular franchise that has continued to run for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, the love and charm that was packed into the first main instalments have been culled and the franchise, in my opinion, is dead.
For those unaware, The Sims is a life simulation franchise in which you control virtual characters and people known as Sims and live out their day-to-day lives. Along the way, you can fulfil your Sims’ goals or their fears, satisfy their needs, and watch them age, grow, and eventually die. You can create a living and breathing neighbourhoods, build homes, apartment complexes, mansions, community lots, and more, and live out any fantasy.
At release, The Sims was heavily praised for its sandbox style of gameplay, allowing players to do anything they wanted within the game’s own rules. Expansions and stuff packs were available to purchase to introduce new gameplay mechanics like pets, romance, university education, holidays, and more. Mods were also made available to expand a player’s gameplay experience further and customise the game to individual tastes.
While each of The Sims base games built on one another, it all came to a halt when Electronic Arts, otherwise known as EA, released The Sims 4 in 2014; an incomplete mess of a game which, six years later, still hasn’t been fixed and pales in comparison to its predecessors.
What’s Wrong With The Sims 4?
The Sims 4 released one year after Maxis’ SimCity reboot in 2013, a game which immediately upon release drew heavy criticism for its online connection errors, for requiring an internet connection to play the single-player mode, and for only providing players with small city sizes due to “performance limitations”. Although an offline mode was quickly released, the damage was done and SimCity 2013 was a disaster.
Although The Sims 4 released as a single-player offline experience in September 2014, modder TwistedMexi found several files which hinted that The Sims 4 was originally going to be an online game similarly to SimCity 2013, and It was supposedly known as Olympus.
What Is The Sims Olympus?
In short, The Sims Olympus was an early build of The Sims 4 which was intended as an online multiplayer experience. TwistedMexi found several game files hinting at its development, including UI files and source code. In the files, TwistedMexi found references to multiplayer invites and interactions.
Reports claim that Olympus was quickly scrapped and instead replaced with the offline single-player experience it launched as. The reason Maxis scrapped the multiplayer component is that the team found it to be too financially risky and due to poor focus testing. The backlash from SimCity 2013 is thought to have contributed in the scrap.
According to reports, players could only control one Sim in Olympus and there was no way of controlling an entire household. What’s more, other players could be identified with a blue Plumbob over their heads. What’s more, early screenshots of Olympus feature a Tudor-themed world similar to Windenburg from The Sims 4: Get Together as well as a world similar to Willow Creek.
Unfortunately, since Maxis scrapped the multiplayer aspect late into development, they had to rebuild the title as a single-player experience and salvage what they could from Olympus. This included the general art style as well as most of the objects.
It’s thought that the reason The Sims 4 shipped without several key features such as pools, toddlers, and more is that Maxis had to rebuild the game as a single-player experience. Many of these features were released via a game update after the game’s release, but there are some features such as cars which still haven’t been included in the game.
So What’s Wrong With The Sims 4?
In short, almost everything. Unlike its predecessors, The Sims 4 seems to lack the love and charm that made the original Sims title and its 2004 hit sequel so popular. What’s more, despite the release of more than 30 add-ons, the game is still lacking in life-simulating content and in-depth gameplay.
Ahead of the release, one of The Sims 4’s biggest selling points was that the Sims have emotions and react to interactions, their surroundings, their needs, and life events. Unfortunately, the game’s emotion system lacks any depth and is simply a word plastered over the active Sim’s portrait with an ever-changing pose to accompany it. While Sims do react with their emotions, it tends to be over-the-top and lacks the subtlety that was present in The Sims 2, a predecessor which had fully-functioning emotions which showed you how your Sims were feeling and did not tell you.
What’s more, the babies in The Sims 4 still work as objects rather than an individual Sim life-stage, there’s a lack of realistic dark skin tones, there are no cars, and The Sims team, now more than ever, seems to be pushing the idea of branded products. This sparked criticism when Maxis released the Moschino Stuff Pack and became even more evident when the Star Wars: Journey To Batuu game pack was announced in August 2020 – sparking a series of complaints that The Sims team wasn’t listening to fans and what they wanted from the game.
Finally, The Sims team and EA seem to be trying to rinse players dry but cutting up expansions into smaller game packs and releasing them on a more frequent basis. These game packs come at the same price as expansions from previous Sims titles but include less content, while the fully-fledged Sims 4 expansions come at a higher cost than previous Sims expansions and also include less content.
Some of the expansions and game packs released for The Sims 4 could have been bundled into bigger add-ons, such as the Cats & Dogs expansion and the My First Pet Stuff pack or Nifty Living Stuff as part of a bigger hobby-themed pack.
There’s plenty more wrong with The Sims 4, but the points made here highlight the main issues with the current iteration of The Sims; EA and Maxis’ primary goal is money, not making a good and playable game. The series and its developers seem to be devoid of any passion, passion for the franchise the devs work day after day for.
Can The Sims Franchise Be Saved?
In all honestly, I don’t believe The Sims franchise, in its current state, can be saved. Not by EA or Maxis at least. At the time of writing, The Sims 4 series is the longest of all main-line Sims titles; the original Sims ran for four years, The Sims 2 ran for five years, The Sims 3 ran for four years, and The Sims 4 has been running for around seven years.
The current iteration of The Sims could be improved if Maxis implements the fixes and the content fans have long called for, but it seems Maxis and EA are more interested in making money than doing this. And it wouldn’t be surprising if The Sims 5, if it’s even happening, is eventually revealed and released as an online multiplayer game.
Right now, it seems that The Sims franchise, Maxis, and EA all need some competition to give their butts a good kick. It seems to be a similar situation to SimCity 2013 and Paradox Interactive’s Cities: Skylines which practically destroyed EA’s hopes of ever fixing and rebooting the SimCity franchise. Although it’s still in early development, Paralives may just be the competition The Sims franchise needs to get developers and EA to think outside the box and give fans what they want; a life simulation game.
Unfortunately, it seems Paralives is still a few years away so it seems we’ll have some waiting to do. Until then, I’ll continue playing my favourite Sims iteration; The Sims 2 and will keep checking in on The Sims 4 and its continuous updates.