Something I’ve been doing quite a lot of, of late is playing The Sims 3. I pretty much have all the expansion packs for the game now due to countless Steam sales, I also essentially had all the expansions for many of the other versions in the series. Now something has struck me as I get the house building craze and let my Sims run around in the house before making them die in the pool (you also need to build a wall around the pools now, you can’t just remove latters. Wah), is that the games expansions and the game overall just doesn’t feel as complete as the previous versions. With the reboot of Sim City coming up, and Sims 3 starting to feel stretched out, is it time for its own reboot or Sims 4 to arise? I think my main issue with the series has always been the games are never the definite version as more get released. Yes there are some nice new features added, but for the most part the original Sims Complete Collection is still the best version. It also comes down to another main problem which each Sims game gets the expansions essentially remade for them.
I’ve made a list of expansions which really should be in the main game. However I’ve avoided stuff like Livin’ Large which is an old school proper expansion game. Where that game essentially added more levels, characters, etc. Instead of major expansions feature wise.
Expansions which should be included in the basic package should be:
House Party (1), Hot Date (1), Night Life (2), Late Night (3); The addition of a last night activities and club life as well as house parties and flirtatious fast paced life should be default in the game.
Unleashed (1), Pets (2), Pets (3); I have to say it, but why is the pets expansion made three times, always late or in the middle of the expansion cycle and offers nothing really expansive outside the inclusion of pets. Pets are a staple in many homes, and a simulation on life itself should include pets right out of the bag.
Superstar (1), Showtime (3); The celebrity based Superstar expansion was my favourite of the original game. I liked creating the movie studios and stuff which goes into the community lots in Superstar, and the simple fact that these expansions added celebrity status options to your Sim which gave the various jobs a much more interesting appeal.
University (2), Open for Business (2), Free Time (2), Apartment Life (2), Ambitions (3), Generations (3); these life expansion/hobby/educational/work based expansions which were quite often from the second generation of the Sims need to be in the base game.
Seasons (2), Seasons (3); I think it’s self-explanatory. In this day and age Season features, as well as Weather features in a life simulation should be included in the base game.
Overall the rule for base game inclusions from expansions should be if it is in direct coloration to everyday normal life in this day and age, as well as in general what a gamer expects from a new release in the series, (and in general what might need to be done so it doesn’t feel stale at launch- which was an issue with Sims 3) it should be included.
Expansions which make sense as Expansions:
Primary the Expansions which make sense are the ones which add a different flavour of life and mythology to the series. As well as the more story driven injected aspects to the game.
These include Makin’ Magic (1), Supernatural (3) for one. The magic based and supernatural based aspects while I’d love to inject into the main game, feel more of an addition rather than a feature which has to be there.
Also Vacation (1), Bon Voyage (2), World Adventures (3); essentially life exploration in different worlds or holidays, it should be an expansion. As an expansion it should also add additional ideas to remain fresh such as maybe, I don’t know, the ability to stay at people’s houses in different parts of the map you live in? Also more story. Expansions need story and purpose.
Expansion Strategy needs to change full stop:
Overall we have reached a time when EA just replicates the expansions again and again. Just look at the list I’ve included of what should be in the default game. For the most part, many of those expansions were done three times. So in all three of the games, the expansion in some way or another has appeared. Not one of these has only appeared in one version, with the rest been replicated in at least two of the series.
Something which started primary in Sims 2 and especially in Sims 3, is the expansion Stuff Packs. These are not inherently bad, but at the same time in their current form and price are.
For The Sims, EA’s store idea is a good idea. The ability to buy items for the game from an online store. However so much of the execution is forceful and overpriced it doesn’t make sense for the consumer to invest in these options because of this. The store should be their primary outlet for Stuff Packs, which should become cheaper along with store items. When a full set can cost almost as much as an expansion, there is something wrong. You do save if you buy more points, but who wants to pay $160 for the top amount of around 30,000 points? Yeah that is a considerable saving, but the content use isn’t there. 1000 points = $10 otherwise, which means with most sets over $10 complete, that is crazy, especially when expansions come in at around $20 now the game has gotten a little older.
So once the prices are considerably cheaper, EA should use the Sims store as the only way to provide extra content when it comes to this DLC style stuff, and not true expansions. There is no reason a stuff pack should be on Steam or Origin, when its content obtainable from the store for example.
Expansions themselves should also come in at a must cheaper price. In Australia for the most part an expansion launches at RRP wise half the price of the full game when it came out. Which doesn’t seem bad. But in practise is a considerable chunk of cash. Especially when expansions usually expand the game at all, outside of one or two unique features and then a considerable amount of essentially reskinned clothes or items.
Expansions should appear on other services, but they should also be cheaper then they currently retail for at launch. The main output and direction of an expansion should change to offer more story based missions or objectives users can complete with their Sims in the various locations.
The main problem is what has become of the community lots in Sims 3:
Community lots for the most part in The Sims 3 should just not exist. As they consist of premade placable building structures, and if you wanted to build your own there isn’t much you can create yourself on a community lot.
There is this nice feature which I’ve noticed (it seems new probably from one of the expansions I recently got), which is the blueprint option for building houses. This annoying community feature could be less annoying, and in fact useful if it was functional with the blueprint aspect. Which means buildings retain the more traditional building aspects which the original titles had in their community lots, and the customization returns, with the addition if the user wants to use premade structures there by using blueprints.
Scale back social. It is a curse of the late 00s:
I don’t know about you, but reading social status updates about The Sims is quite boring. There latterly is no purpose for Twitter or Facebook integration, even The Sims own social profiles in the title when it comes to sharing what you are doing within the game. It just seems so boring to read, and unless an amazing glitch happens or your sharing your house (which can be done by other means) there is not much feedback or communication which can happen socially using the social network aspects of the title. In fact this is a curse for all games coming out of the late 2000s which includes social media additions. It was a shark they jumped on, without releasing there wasn’t much point.
For me, for social networking to work, it has to be social. Which means posts have to be from directly from the user. Achievement announcements are nice, but they clog up the list, which makes them overally annoying unless they appear only on the games social page or digital distribution platform. Social integration in games, breaks gameplay when it has to be a post which the user has to make within the game. If this is taken away and its automatic, then it isn’t very social and limits the users interaction with the social networks, unless they specifically go to them to reply to it. So if it is a social interaction which is desired during the game, it is impossible without been overally annoying with promotes etc. telling the user that someone else has replied etc. Which The Sims 3 already has a range of annoying tutorial messages and promotes it shoots out which easily becomes a backlog. So in short, social is pointless in The Sims, even though it seems like the perfect game to use it.
A reboot is needed, which needs to expand on what has already been laid down, and including the majority of the expansions without becoming stale. Additions to the games building mechanics should be worked on by maybe working with building groups etc. So they can work out what is doable in certain positions etc. Homes these days are completely different, with domes and other objects becoming common instead of squares.
Also the world should no longer be some static map pregenerated. What about some unique generation algorithm which users can include and add things into the map etc. to make the experience as different and as unique as possible. Or use Sim City 5 maps?
In short, The Sims has become stagnate as a series, and while it still sells well. If EA continues down this path they have it will become more and more casualised and less and less profitable in the long run, without a massive halt to the series then a reboot like Sim City. Even then, the always on Online and other additions, seem anti customer and many feel it could have been left alone.
The original has so many different features which have since been left out and not expanded on, which should return. (Such as the badass robot butler).