DarkSpawn Social Media Manager, Content Creator & EAGamechanger
The Sims has long been one of EA’s biggest franchises, with Maxis offering fans new content several times a year. And whilst nobody can deny that the outward communication from the Sims Team (headed up by new Global Community manager Kate Olmstead) has become more frequent and more ‘personal’ – has quantity become a priority for Maxis at the sacrifice of quality?
Cats & Dogs & My First Pet Stuff
When a trailer for Cats & Dogs was released back in August 2017, everyone just about lost their minds. Pets had been one of the single most requested add on pack for The Sims 4 up until that point, with fans of The Sims 2 & 3 flooding any Twitch streams or Forum posts with one question: “Where are my damn Pets?”. So it was no surprise that some found the trailer to be somewhat anti-climactic as it was revealed that Cats and Dogs would be the only ‘pets’ that Sims 4 players would be getting. Horses, Birds, Reptiles, and other smaller animals all seemed to be forgotten and the community was vocal about it. But, when the 5th Expansion pack was released worldwide on November 10th 2018 it was met with an outstandingly warm reception.
Enter, My First Pet Stuff. What should probably been a free update in order to enhance and improve Cats & Dogs was actually marketed as a £8.99 Stuff Pack with new content that would drastically change the way people played The Sims 4 with ‘Pets’. Fans and newcomers to the franchise were shocked, with some even threatening to boycott the game altogether until EA and Maxis changed their approach to releasing content that only made sense when paired with an already existing (and paid for) pack. It was the start of a fairly rocky 2018 for the Sims team.
New Gallery Features
For a long time, the gallery has been like a who’s who of Sims 4 creators. You can find almost anything pre-built for you, including lots that resemble movie scenes and famous buildings. There have always been different ways to explore the gallery, whether you want to see what’s the current favourite, the newest and possibly undiscovered, or the old go-to builds from Simmers that are world famous. But, what Maxis may not have been expecting was an outpouring of dismay when a patch changed the way the gallery automatically generated the ‘front page’ when users logged in. Creators across the globe claimed that their download stats and popularity on the gallery had been seriously affected, and that ‘bigger’ Simmers that were already well known and had exposure via YouTube and Twitch were being unfairly promoted in their place. This debate became a Twitter hot-topic for almost a month, with the Maxis team eventually working to fix the issue via a patch.
The Free Updates
In addition to paid content, Simmers were treated to three pretty huge additions to their games this year – Terrain Tools, First Person Camera, and a new ‘Style Influencer’ Career. In the live Maxis Monthly streams, fans and players have outright begged for Cars, Terrain Tools and – oddly – Witches. When Terrain Tools were ‘leaked’ in an October stream, the excitement was clear but short lived. It didn’t please everyone, especially those who prefer to play the game over building, and with Senior Producer Grant Rodiek outright saying “You will not get Cars in The Sims 4” there was a short but definite outcry from some Simmers who felt that this was a huge lapse in the team’s judgement of what was needed to really improve The Sims 4.
Get Famous & Del Sol Valley
Despite the game launching only 2 weeks ago, Get Famous has already ruffled the feathers of many fans. More specifically, the new world ‘Del Sol Valley’ has. It did not escape the attention of eagle eyed players that there were significantly less editable lots in the new world, and that almost half of those lots were pre-designated to be community lots. With rumours that this meant that the 6th Expansion Pack was rushed, or wasn’t giving players value for money, it led to some harsh criticism of the Maxis team on Twitter and Facebook. When SimGuru Dave ‘Ninja’ Miotke gave some insight into why this was so, citing “Performance Issues” as the main reason for the smaller world, players were not having any of it. Instead, the community continue to make the case that Get Famous should have been a Game Pack instead of an Expansion – saving players around £10.
So what does this mean for 2019?
It has already been plainly stated that there are several years of Sims 4 content for the team to explore and implement before they even think about moving on to the next step on The Sims, so fans can expect to see even more paid and free content in the new year. There are rumours of more Supernatural style packs, branded stuff packs similar to the H&M and IKEA packs that we saw in The Sims 2, and of course the ever requested University and Vacation additions that we have not yet seen for this generation of the game. But what do the team need to do in order to give the Sims community more of an active input? Well, as we saw with Laundry Day, the community love to be able to have a say in where the game goes next. It makes sense to involve the players directly, and with the EA Gamechanger program it would make perfect sense to utilise focus groups in the development process. Either way, it looks set to be an interesting year for Maxis and EA.