The Sims Studio (2006–present)
|First release||The Sims
February 4, 2000
|Latest release||The Sims 4: Outdoor Retreat
January 13, 2015
The Sims is a life simulation video game series, developed by EA Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. It is one of the most successful video games series of all time. As of September 2013, the franchise has sold more than 175 million copies worldwide.
The series was created by Maxis, before the series being moved to The Sims Studio between 2006 and 2008. The Sims Studio then reintegrated into the new EA Maxis label in 2012.
The games in The Sims series are largely sandbox games, in that they lack any defined goals (except for some later expansion packs and console versions which introduced this gameplay style). The player creates virtual people called "Sims" and places them in houses and helps direct their moods and satisfy their desires. Players can either place their Sims in pre-constructed homes or build them themselves. Each successive expansion pack and game in the series augmented what the player could do with their Sims.
- 1 Development
- 2 Main series
- 3 Renditions of Sims
- 4 Other media
- 5 Legacy
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Game designer Will Wright was inspired to create a "virtual doll house" after losing his home during the Oakland firestorm of 1991 and subsequently rebuilding his life. Replacing his home and his other possessions made him think about adapting that life experience into a game. When he initially took his ideas to the Maxis board of the directors, they were skeptical and gave little support or financing for the game. The directors at Electronic Arts, which bought Maxis in 1997, were more receptive, primarily because the success of SimCity and they foresaw the possibility of building a strong Sim franchise. Wright also took ideas from the 1977 architecture and urban design book A Pattern Language, American psychologist Abraham Maslow's 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation and his hierarchy of needs, and Charles Hampden-Turner's Maps of the Mind to develop a model for the game's artificial intelligence.
The Sims is the first game in the series. Developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts, it was released for Microsoft Windows in February 2000. The game uses isometric projection and features open-ended simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual persons ("Sims") in a suburban area near SimCity. Seven expansion packs and two bonafide deluxe editions with exclusive content have been released for this game. It was repackaged in several different formats and different versions of it were released on several different platforms. By March 22, 2002, The Sims had sold more than 11.3 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling P.C. game in history, surpassing Myst. The original game, all seven expansion packs, and the two exclusive deluxe edition content packs constitute the first generation of the series on the PC. All PC releases in this generation were developed by Maxis.
The Sims 2
Electronic Arts released The Sims 2 on September 14, 2004. The sequel, developed by Maxis, takes place in a full 3D environment as opposed to the dimetric projection of the original game. Sims also age through six life stages from infancy to old age and subsequent death. Another major feature is the aspiration system. Each sim exhibits wants and fears according to their aspiration and personality. Consequently, the level of the aspiration meter determines the effectiveness of a sim at completing tasks. Aspiration points are acquired through the fulfillment of wants, which could, in turn, be used to purchase aspiration rewards. In addition, the game features clear days of the week with weekends when children can stay home from school, vacation days when adults can take time off work.
The Sims 2 is set some 25 years after the original game. For instance, the Goth family has aged significantly with Bella Goth mysteriously vanishing in the 25-year period. Because the entire game has progressed from 2D sprites to 3D models, all content in The Sims 2 had to be created from the ground up. Due to this, The Sims 2 was not made backwards-compatible with any content from the first generation of the main series. However, some objects and features from the original series were remade for this sequel.
Electronic Arts released eight expansion packs and nine stuff packs for The Sims 2. Over 400 exclusive items were also released for this game via The Sims 2 Store. In addition, exclusive items including pre-order items were released over the life cycle of this generation. All of these releases constitute the second generation of the main series.
The Sims Studio was created in 2006, and between then and 2008 the development of the franchise was slowly handed over to the new studio from Maxis, with the former studio now focusing its resources on its next project — Spore.
The Sims 3
Electronic Arts released The Sims 3 to retailers worldwide and available by digital download on June 2, 2009. The sequel, developed by The Sims Studio, was announced by EA in November 2006. The game is set 25 years prior the original game, and features an open, seamless neighborhood, improved tools for sim creation, enhanced build and buy mode functions, and the introduction of wishes and goals. The game also introduces a new form of directed gameplay through small, step-wise goals presented as opportunities which the player may choose to pursue or refuse. The Sims 3 sold 1.4 million copies in the first week, making it the largest release in PC gaming history at the time. The game has sold over 10 million copies worldwide since its release.
EA announced on April 8, 2009 that Will Wright, who designed the original game, had left Maxis to run Stupid Fun Club, an entertainment development studio founded in 2001 to develop "new intellectual properties to be deployed across multiple fronts including video games, movies, television, the Internet and toys".
In 2013, an EA restructure saw The Sims Studio reintegrated with the revitalized EA Maxis label, and since the 9th expansion of The Sims 3, University Life, which was released in March 2013, the Sims franchise was back in development control of EA Maxis, including expansion packs and new developments, with The Sims Studio operating inside EA Maxis.
Eleven expansion packs and nine stuff packs have been released for the third generation of the series. In addition, many items are available online for additional fees at The Sims 3 Store. The core game and its associated releases constitute the third generation of the main series.
The Sims 4
Electronic Arts officially announced The Sims 4 on May 6, 2013. At the time of the first announcement, there was little information available about the game short of a logo, some concept art and promotional trailers published to YouTube on August 20, 2013. The announcement did include that the game was in development by EA Maxis, including the Sims Studio teams.
Later on in 2014, further details on features and gameplay were announced. A release date of September 2, 2014 was announced at E3 2014.
Renditions of Sims
The Sims Online
In December 2002, Electronic Arts shipped the Maxis-developed The Sims Online, which was later named EA Land. This online game recreates The Sims as an MMOG, where actual human players can interact with each other. This spin-off did not achieve the same level of success as the original. Reviews for The Sims Online were extremely lackluster. Many reviewers likened The Sims Online experience to an enormous chat room. On August 1, 2008, EA-Land's shops were closed permanently.
The Sims Stories
The Sims Stories is a series of computer games from The Sims series released in 2007–2008 that is based on a modified version of The Sims 2 engine. This modified game engine is optimized for play on systems with weaker specifications such as laptops. As such, its system requirements are lower than that of The Sims 2, but it can still be played on desktops. One feature of this game, if played on a laptop, is the auto-pause function, which stops and starts the game when the lid is closed and opened, respectively. This series is introduced mainly for 3 segments of the market: those who wish to play The Sims 2 on their laptops (which usually have lower specifications); those who wish to engage in other activities such as instant messaging while playing the game, and; those who are new to the franchise. In addition to a Free Play mode with classic, open-ended game play, the games also contains a structured, linear Story mode where players are required to complete a series of goals in order to progress in the storyline. While Life Stories and Pet Stories each contain two separate stories, Castaway Stories contains one story that is double the length of any one story in the first two games. As an introductory series, major features are removed or modified from those in The Sims 2. For example, fears are completely removed in all three games, and the elder life stage is completely removed in Pet Stories. Officially, the save files from this series are not compatible with the main The Sims 2 games. However, players have experienced success at adapting some files.
Three games have been released to date. There are currently no plans announced to continue this series.
MySims is series of console games created by EA exclusively for the Wii and Nintendo DS (with SkyHeroes being the exception). They feature Chibi-like characters (a tiny bit smaller and similar to the Wii's Mii avatars). The first game in the series was released in September 2007. It is also known for being the first Sim game released in Japan. MySims SkyHeroes, the newest addition to the MySims line of games, was released in September 2010.
The Sims Carnival
The Sims Carnival was a casual games brand of The Sims. It had two separate product lines. First, it was an online community of crowd-sourced web games. Second, it was a line of packaged game titles sold via retail stores and digital download.
The Sims Medieval
The Sims Medieval is a spin-off game released in 2011. It is set in medieval time, and although it is based on The Sims 3 engine, it plays very differently. Unlike the games in The Sims Stories series, The Sims Medieval is a new base game with its own set of expansions called adventure packs.
The Sims Social
Launched in August 2011, The Sims Social was a Flash-based game developed by Playfish for Facebook. EA announced the game was officially upgraded from Beta to Live status in a press release issued on August 23, 2011. Due to negative responses from players, the game has shut down and was removed from Facebook permanently on June 14, 2013.
Console and handheld versions
The Sims era
The Sims is the first console release that shares the same name as the base game in the first generation of the main series.
The Sims Bustin' Out is the second title in The Sims console series. Bustin' Out was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance and N-Gage in the fourth quarter of 2003. As the title suggests, Sims can get out of the house to visit other locations such as Shiny Things Lab or Casa Caliente. There are two modes. Bust Out Mode which has mission based gameplay and Freeplay Mode which is open-ended gameplay very much like the original The Sims PC game. It was the second Sims game to not be on the PC; it was a follow up to The Sims, which was very similar to Bustin' Out, except the aims were shifted to getting job promotions and constantly fulfilling goals to get ahead in the game. The PlayStation 2 version also features the option to play online, though EA no longer supports it.
The Urbz: Sims in the City is a game focused on sims living in an urban setting, presumably within Sim City. The player must earn reputation and complete tasks for characters. It was released for Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. It featured The Black Eyed Peas as NPCs.
The Sims 2 era
The Sims 2, The Sims 2: Pets, and The Sims 2: Castaway have all been released for various platforms including the Wii, PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox, and Nintendo DS systems. The Sims 2: Apartment Pets, considered a sequel to The Sims 2: Pets by Electronic Arts, was only released for the Nintendo DS.
In addition, EA has released several The Sims titles for the iPod nano (3rd and 4th generation), and the iPod classic and iPod (5th generation). Some of these titles include: The Sims Bowling, The Sims DJ, and The Sims Pool,
The Sims 3 era
The Sims 3, The Sims 3: World Adventures, and The Sims 3: Ambitions were released for the iPhone/iPod Touch. In addition, The Sims 3 was also released for Android mobile systems. The Sims 3 was released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS in October 2010, and the Wii in November 2010, and the Nintendo 3DS on March 25, 2011 in Europe. The 3DS version of the game was launched with the console. The Sims 3: Pets was released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS.
The Sims FreePlay
The Sims FreePlay, a freemium version of The Sims for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones (and tablets) and Kindle Fire was released worldwide on December 15, 2011 for iOS devices, and on February 15, 2012 for Android. The game made it to Kindle Fire in October 2012 and to BlackBerry 10 on July 31, 2013. Unlike other Sims games, The Sims FreePlay runs in real-time and takes real time to complete actions. Players can progress through 52 levels and unlock new content, create up to 31 Sims, build town map buildings, complete goals to earn Lifestyle Points, plant, bake, go to job and school, get married and have a baby (and watch babies grow up), get pets, grow to elder and teach those young ones and much more.
The game is regularly updated with new content and has many events and competitions, announced at FreePlay's official Facebook page. Several updates for the game have been released.
Producer John Davis revealed on an interview that he is taking inspiration from John Hughes's 1985 film Weird Science for the movie adaptation.
"What they realize is that they can scan their world in, because this is the most lifelike, real Sims game ever. As they are playing this, they are all of a sudden realising [that] what they are playing on the game is having an effect on the real world. So in effect, through the game, they are able to control their world. It's wish fulfillment, and obviously it turns against them."
The success of The Sims resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series five world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "World's Biggest-Selling Simulation Series" and "Best Selling PC Game of All Time" for the original The Sims game, which sold 16 million units, 100 times EA's original projection of 160,000 units.
- "The Sims 4 and other upcoming games to watch".
- Seabrook, John (November 6, 2006). "Game Master: Will Wright changed the concept of video games with the Sims. Can he do it again with Spore?". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "Inspired to make The Sims after losing a home". Berkeleyside. October 17, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Walker, Trey (March 22, 2002). "The Sims overtakes Myst". GameSpot. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "The Sims 3". GameRankings. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Reilly, Jim (July 13, 2009). "The Sims 3 Dominating PC Software Sales". IGN. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Terdiman, Daniel (October 7, 2009). "Will Wright speaks about his Stupid Fun Club start-up". CNET News. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "Maxis Unveils The Sims 4". EA News. May 6, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- "About – The Sims Stories". The Sims 2 (EA). Retrieved October 31, 2007.
- "About The Sims Stories: Coming Winter 2008". Yahoo! Games. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
- "Sims Social get "Live" Status!".
- "The Sims Bowling for iPod". EAmobile.com. Electronic Arts. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "The Sims DJ for iPod". EAmobile.com. Electronic Arts. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "The Sims Pool for iPod". EAmobile.com. Electronic Arts. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "Producer explains 'Sims' movie concept". Digital Spy. September 22, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- "Producer John Davis Gives Updates on THE SIMS Movie, the Aliens vs. Predator Movies and Jason and the Argonauts!". Collider.com. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
- Official website
- The Sims at the Wayback Machine (archived June 3, 2002)
- The Sims at the Wayback Machine (archived February 6, 2001)
- The Sims at the Wayback Machine (archived November 9, 2000)
- The Sims at the Wayback Machine (archived October 8, 1999)