Twelve and a half years ago The Sims was launched on PC, and to this day the series has produced 3 core titles, 16 expansion packs, and 17 additional "Stuff Packs" along with countless spinoff series (The Sims Medieval, The Sims: Life Stories , The Sims: Bustin' Out , etc.). The Sims has transformed to what was originally intended to be an architecture simulation to becoming a full size life and fantasy simulation. Every new addition has changed the way the game is played, and every addition has added new ways to experiment with the world in which the player becomes a part of. The Sims is essence has become a shell in which players can go to college, take vacations, become vampires, astronauts, superstars, all within the context of a simulation.
I used to be deeply embedded in the Sims community. Every new expansion I would buy day and date with the release. I absorbed every piece of content that Electronic Arts and Maxis Software would put out. As of recently however, that has changed. The Sims as a franchise no longer features the endless abyss of content and choices that it once did. The Sims used to explore and challenge the depths of the player's creativity. Each addition used to add an exciting new twist to the classic Sims gameplay. Whether it was adding pets for the first time in The Sims: Unleashed or letting you go to the beach in The Sims: Vacation all of the ideas added a fresh new spin on the existing gameplay. Recently the developers have become safe, and to be quite frank, boring.
The original Sims gave the player full control of a single family, there was no aging, no open world to explore, no cars to drive around, it was simply a simulation of life. Each addition since has added various systems and features that make the game richer. The core Sims experience had the core mood meters: Fun, Energy, Hunger, Bladder, etc. and that was basically it. There were basic relationship interactions and social meters, but nothing overly complex. Over the years the sheer amount of meters and bars has expanded to the point of absurdity. There are lifetime goal meters, aspiration meters, skill meters, ability meters, financial meters, even temperature meters. Over the course of twelve years The Sims has changed from being a simple experiment to becoming a massive sandbox full of complex systems.
The reason I stopped playing the Sims is because there is a point in which the developers got lazy with their additions to the series. The Sims used to be about giving the player the tools to create, and letting the player mess around with this neat sandbox. Recently the game has become so bizarrely structured, and linear. The game sets up a certain amount of paths for the player to go down, and there's not really much else. Sure you can still create houses, and outfits, and furniture. You can create anything you could possibly want. The fun of creating however is completely sucked dry by the linear style of gameplay. If the original Sims was about creating your own story, the current Sims is about replicating somebody else's story.
The Sims used to be at the forefront of PC gaming, it showcased the creativity of a budding industry. Now The Sims has become a commercial dumping ground. What used to be a series about individualism, and creativity has become a series about commercialism and greed. Things like The Sims 2: IKEA Home Stuff , and The Sims 3: Katy Perry Sweet Treats just go to show that creativity has left the series, and to be quite frank moved elsewhere. Players used to wait six months to a year for new content to play around with, now there's new content on the online store, where players can buy a new neighborhood for (no joke) $37 a piece. Prices for expansion packs were raised from a fairly normal price of $30 to an expensive $40 while stripping out much of the content along the way. The Sims: Unleashed came with about 120 brand new objects along with a substantial amount of new features. Now the player is lucky if an expansion pack comes with 50 or 60 items, and very lackluster features.
As I sit here writing this blog post I feel ashamed at how much money I spent on the franchise. The Sims is something that not only took over my life, but my wallet as well. I feel ashamed at the amount of money I spent only to get burned in the end. The Sims is a franchise that started out as a fresh approach to the PC game we all knew and loved. The Sims started out as something in stark contrast to the shooters and strategy games of the time. Now it's just a corporate slave and has sold out both itself and it's players. The Sims used to be something that I felt proud to play, and be a part of. Now i just feel ashamed and used by the same game.