So what is up with The Sims 4?

“EA made headlines in late June when they announced that the next installment of The Sims would not feature pools” was not a sentence I ever expected to write, but here we are. This is the world we live in now.

Okay. Deep breath. There’s no way I’m gonna be able to make the following paragraphs entertaining, but I’ve seen too much talk about this on twitter today to not touch on it.

Yesterday, The Sims 4 was released in North America, greeted by what you could call a lukewarm response. Many fans have taken to twitter to comment on the apparent lack of stuff compared to the old games. The question I see a surprising amount of people asking is: What’s the deal with the new Sims?

To answer that, we must go back.

The first Sims game was a full-blown satire of consumerism and status culture, filled with cheap junk that broke constantly and expensive junk with only slightly better stats costing ten or twenty times as much as the cheap stuff. At the time it seemed surprising how much of a hit it was on release, but EA quickly caught on and started pumping out expansion packs.

Disgruntled fan (left)

One thing easily forgotten about the past installments is that while they are now filled to the brim with stuff of various shapes and sizes, none of them started out that way. The same kind of criticisms being launched against Sims 4 now were launched against Sims 2 when that was new as well. Each one after the first has been sold more or less piecemeal; only towards the end of their life cycles are they these big games filled with stuff.

So if you’re worried that this is the end for the continued artistic value of the Sims franchise: don’t be. You’re ten years too late. The artistic integrity of The Sims is long dead and buried; it has become a monument to all the consumerism and nasty status culture it originally went out to satirize.

Each cycle a few more disillusioned fans leave the franchise, but it does not matter; enough stick around and EA gets to make their money one more time.

But it’s not all bad. The financial security EA is given by these kinds of cash cows is part of what lets them do more risky things when they feel like it. That’s the mainstream games industry for you. And by all accounts, though this particular ship seems to have sailed for me, a lot of people still enjoy The Sims.

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