While the two previous expansions to The Sims 2
franchise sought to open up new academic and social possibilities, Open for Business
sets its sights on expanding the game's professional side by allowing the inhabitants to start up their own companies. Sims can now purchase their own community lots, hire and fire employees, attempt to build up a reputable business with a loyal clientele, and enjoy an array of different perks that come with their success.Open for Business
requires the original Sims 2
in order to install, but although the other expansion packs in the series can greatly expand the variety of possible companies, none of them are necessary for this one to function. This expansion pack also includes the Influence and Attraction dynamics that were first introduced in University
Player-controlled characters can elect to open a new business on any lot they own by contacting the local business registry. This can include running a shop out of their own home, or setting up a dedicated storefront on a community lot they've purchased. Once a sim has put up an Open Sign to indicate when they're available to take customers and the equipment to transact a sale, virtually any object or activity in the game can potentially be turned into a profitable enterprise.
Companies fall into three general categories:
- Entertainment venues typically charge for admission by selling a ticket at the front door and then charge customers automatically based on how long they remain. Any place with items that sims like to use, including telescopes or exercise equipment, can become a successful hang-out, but this type of business works best in tandem with the Nightlife expansion pack which introduces hot spots like nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, and bowling alleys to the game.
- Retail stores sell inventory to browsing shoppers at cash registers, provided they have some combination of quality merchandise, sufficient stock, good prices, or a skilled enough sales staff to seal the deal. Virtually any object in the game can be placed out on a retail floor for interested sims to purchase, including existing items like lamps and furniture which can be acquired at a discount through wholesale channels, or custom-created items which are hand-crafted by dedicated sims at the new workbench stations.
- Service shops, even more than the others, rely on the expertise of the individual workers to cater to the clientele. Businesses like barber shops, beauty salons, and florists are more about selling the good fashion sense of the staff than about physical products, so cultivating a crew of highly trained professionals is essential to their success.
When the workload of closing sales, ringing out transactions, ordering new goods, and restocking the shelves becomes too much for a single business owner to handle alone, characters can hire paid employees to help out. Individual workers naturally vary in the areas of competence and motivation, and while both can be improved with time and effort, effective managers will do well to recognize which staff members are worthwhile and which should be let go.
Employees are NPCs who cannot be directly controlled in the same way as a normal sim, but their employer can delegate assignments and invoke different sorts of incentives like rousing speeches and cash bonuses to inspire them to work harder. Ultimately, however, each hireling's inherent personality traits, skill set, and personal experience will separate the slackers from the valuable self-starters.
Players are also free to assign specific work attire for their workers, choosing from any of the new clothing options designed to serve as uniforms, or any of the other outfits available in their game.
Talents and Badges Running things around a small business relies on different skill sets than sims have needed in the past, so Open for Business introduces a distinct system of Talents with four tiers of mastery each. Talents start out untrained and cannot be learned from books the way that traditional Skills like Cooking or Mechanics can; Badges must be earned through extensive hands-on experience.
The four Badge levels are Untrained, Bronze, Silver, and Gold, and with each rise in rank, characters become more efficient at their jobs and unlock more advanced abilities. Sims who excel in certain Skills have an easier time acquiring certain Talent Badges.
- Cashiering - (Logic) - Increases the ability to swiftly and courteously conclude a transaction at the register
- Cosmetology - (Cleaning) - Improves the likelihood of giving attractive haircuts and makeovers
- Floral Arrangement - (Creativity) - Allows the creation of increasingly beautiful flower bouquets
- Robotics - (Mechanical) - Determines the ability design and build droids to automate menial tasks
- Sales - (Charisma) - Affects a sim's ability to help a curious shopper or persuade a hesitant one to make a purchse
- Stocking - (Body) - Improves the speed at which shelf space is restocked after a sale is made
- Toy Making - (Mechanical) - Allows the creation of hand-crafted playthings for younger sims
The effect of earning new Badges varies depending on type. Ranking up in Floral Arrangement, for example, not only increases the speed at which bouquets can be produced, but also unlocks the ability to create more exotic arrangements which can attract a wealthier clientele. Mastering the Gold level in Sales, on the other hand, grants characters the ability to pitch a "Hard Sell" to pressure a time-wasting window shopper into making an expensive purchase.
Every shopper who strolls in the front door of a shop, including other player-made characters residing in the neighborhood, arrives with their personalities fully intact. In Open for Business
, characteristics like Niceness, Playfulness, and Outgoingness have a direct impact on what sort of shopping experience the sim is looking for and how susceptible they're likely to be to different sales pitches. Aspirations also play a role, with Family-oriented characters demonstrating a greater interest in things like children's toys, Wealth-centric sims shopping for expensive new toys, and so on.
Customers also remember their experiences at different businesses and become more likely to return to places that have treated them well. Customer Loyalty
is a direct measurement of this satisfaction, and can be built up with good prices, quality merchandise, and short wait times in the checkout line, or deteriorated by shoddy service and overly pushy sales reps.
One special type of customer is the Secret Shopper, an undercover consumer advocate who will critique his or her experience at the player's shop. Negative reviews can turn public opinion against the owner, but a positive one results in a significant influx of new walk-ins ready to be similarly impressed.
As a business gains a larger base of happy customers and word of mouth starts to spread, the company's reputation around town improves and starts to unlock special benefits for the owner. Perks are valuable traits which are manually chosen to suit the needs of a particular business as it grows more prominent, and each category has five levels of advancement.
- Cash - Each rank rewards an enterprising sim with an instant one-time infusion of cash
- Connections - Allows the rapid development of positive new relationships with sims all around town, vastly expanding the owner's available network of friends and acquaintances
- Motivation - Directly extends the owner's personal Influence bar and allows him or her to attract customers or inspire employees
- Perception - Opens up better insight into the thoughts and attitudes of would-be customers to allow a more effective sales approach
- Wholesale - Increases the profit margin of selling retail goods by lowering the wholesale distribution price
With the exception of the Cash Perk which represents only a one-time prize, all Perks represent permanent benefits which remain with the company owner even if the current business is closed or sold off in favor of a new enterprise.
Robots Open for Business
adds crafting stations for arranging flower bouquets and toys, but the robotic design bench stands apart for its ability to produce a new breed of object. Robots can only be acquired from a character cunning enough to create them from scratch and, once activated, behave as independent, ambulatory entities according to the dictates of their programming.
- Toy Robots are simplistic electronic playthings which serve only to amuse younger sims. The only thing that Untrained sims can create at first, practice will eventually lead to bigger and more complex models.
- Cleaning Bots become available to sims who attain a Bronze Badge in Robotics. These little guys scoot around the floor of a shop or household dutifully scooping up any detritus within their reach, but are unable to reach counter tops, showers, bathtubs, or other appliances. Cleaning Bots that malfunction spew out a sizeable amount of garbage before shutting down for repairs.
- Hydro Bots can also be designed by Bronze Badge recipients and will automatically water the owner's plants as needed. They can also be literal life-savers if a fire breaks out, though they're unable to navigate staircases to reach different floors of a home. Glitchy Hydro Bots have a nasty habit of spraying water in all directions, potentially shorting out any other robots in the vicinity.
- Sentry Bots may be manufactured by characters who reach the Silver Badge in Robotics. They pack a mean jolt for ill-intentioned shoplifters and prowlers, but if they start to break down, they'll start roaming around zapping random characters until they run out of juice.
- Munchie Bots are sophisticated enough that they also requires a Silver Badge before they can be successfully programmed to fetch and prepare meals for their hungry owners. Sims might want to sniff their food carefully before scarfing it down, however, as a malfunctioning unit may lose its ability to recognize rotten produce.
- Servo, the pinnacle of cybernetic technology, is so advanced that it may only be attempted by a sim who can prove their mastery with a Gold Badge in Robotics. Though artificial, Servo is no mere automaton: it possesses a distinct personality patterned on its owner, a full skill set inherited from its designer, and can be directly controlled like a human character. Exposure to water can be fatal to Servo, and if it malfunctions, it may go berserk, start smashing things, and even harm nearby sims.
Just as University
added college campus destinations and Nightlife
introduced the Downtown area as a dedicated area for sims to socialize, Open for Business
brings the option to link a new shopping district to an existing residential neighborhood. Character-owned companies may be started up in any community lot or operated out a sim's own home, but while the shopping district's properties are more expensive, they enjoy a higher volume of foot traffic and curious walk-ins.
The default shopping district is Bluewater Village which comes with several existing and ready-to-start new business lots, though players are also free to create their own district from scratch.
- New architectural items, including elevators, awnings, and roof shapes
- New interior design motifs, including International, Storybook, and European decors
- New music options, including four real-life 80's songs re-recorded in Simlish
- Ability to lock doors so that only residents or employees may pass through them
- The game may now be saved while sims are out on community lots
- Dozens of new NPCs from Bluewater Village to meet
- Head of Sims Studio Ron Humble initially was deeply interested in the ability to create bookstores, and as such made certain that the bookstore creation system was deep and multi-layered. He was disappointed after release to find out that bookstore creation was one of the least popular facets of Open for Business.