With The Sims, EA Is Being Greedy… What Else Is New?

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If you’ve been following the latest banter about EA’s newest Sims reboot, The Sims 4, you already know that the base game will release without pools and toddlers. These may seem like minor omissions, but they’re parts of the game that have been included in every version’s base game (with the exception of toddlers in the original The Sims) since its inception. However, it’s less about the omission itself and more about how EA tried to smooth it over that has people really riled up.

In a June 25 blog post about the upcoming game (due out on September 2nd in the United States), producer Ryan Vaughan wrote:

And while we recognize that some of you will be disappointed that pools and toddlers won’t be available when The Sims 4 Base Game launches in September, you should know that we’re building an incredibly strong foundation that is capable of fulfilling every one of your desires in the years to come.

This sentence alone set off an explosion of hatred for the Sims franchise and EA in general. Gaming communities, fan sites, and commenters on portals like Reddit have become increasingly outspoken about their dissatisfaction with the many expansions EA has milked out of its games.

For instance: The Sims 3, with its 11 expansion packs and 9 “stuff packs” (which add only objects and not additional functionality to the games), would have cost a hardcore Sims aficionado a full $679.79 ($59.99 base game + $39.99 x 11 EPs + $19.99 x 9 SPs) to purchase at its time of release. That’s a lot of money to spend being a couch potato while you poke and prod your digital human to not be a couch potato.

Of course, you don’t have to buy every expansion pack, and for most players, the stuff packs are totally unnecessary, commercialized garbage. (I mean, Katy Perry’s Sweet Treats? You’ve got to be kidding me.) But EA’s customer base just seems to keep buying.

Moreover, it seems like with every reboot, the expansions get weirder. In the original Sims we jumped for joy for the ability to send our Sims on dates; The Sims 3’s many EPs gave us the chance to be chased around by mummies, get funky with a werechick, and have midlife crises. How realistic do you really want your life simulation to get?

If EA were to release The Sims 4: Disabled (an add-on that introduces wheelchairs as accessories, lets players participate in the Special Olympics, and occasionally requires them to shop around for a lawyer when their Social Security benefits don’t come through), would you buy it? You can bet some fans would shell out $40 for that. As always, we vote with our wallets.

But never before has it become so apparent that EA is intentionally releasing a somewhat “empty” base game with the full intention of tacking those missing features on later. Sure, the furniture options in The Sims 3’s base game were a little lackluster, but at least you could actually add furniture to your game.

Instead, they’re building “an incredibly strong foundation” – that is, a foundation for gamers to blow all of their money on adding functionality that earlier games started out with. I would bet it’s only a matter of time until we see The Sims 4: Pool Party Expansion Pack and The Sims 4: Terrible Twos Expansion Pack lining store shelves.

I can hardly wait.

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