People are Still All Over Sims 4 Despite EA’s Greediness — Why?

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We all know that the Sims 4 is free to play now. Before 18th October 2022 when the game was made free, the game cost RM99 for the base game (you know, the only base game in the Sims franchise when it had no swimming pools included before the update). After some time in 2021, the price for the base game had reduced to RM69 on the Origin store and Steam.

Unlike its predecessor, the base game felt incomplete. Sims 2 had massive graphical changes and details compared to the first Sims, and the Sims 3 tried to innovate by having an open world life simulation for the first time in the franchise. And Sims 4…

Well, Sims 4 had nothing much to offer.

But people seem to really flock all over the game, despite EA’s unethical money-making scheme. The company’s basically milking their longtime fans with non-polished and incomplete DLC packages they call “Game Packs”, “Expansion Packs”, and “Stuff Packs”. Each pack costs almost just as much as the base game itself, and sometimes more. Things that should have been in the base game are separated into expansion packs.

Some of the expansion packs for the Sims 4.

Now we’re seeing other competitors being on the rise. Paralives, Life by You, etc.—these are made from other companies and small communities to ‘rival’ EA. But there are definitely doubts that we’ll be able to see it until these games are released to the public. What’s really special about EA’s Sims franchise that makes them stay?

CAS: They are much superior

Create-a-Sim mode in the Sims 4.

Create-a-Sim (CAS) is so good in Sims 4, that it cannot easily be beaten by its predecessors (not even Sims 2, expectedly). The control that players have in creating their own Sims—facial features, shapes, body proportions, muscle mass and definitions—allows endless creativity in sculpting the Sims they wish to have or represent. Customisation options that the players have, with sliders and draggable facial and body parts, allow the Sims to even mimic the look of a real-life person (though not too realistically).

Detail edits in the Create-a-Sim (CAS) mode.

They still retain the cartoon-ish look from previous games, with exaggerated facial expressions and animations to really express their thoughts. But, they do not look outdated, in some ways. The improved graphics, which we will cover later, improved the way our Sims look, too. So the adjustable details and features on the Sims, as well as customisable sliders for almost everything for the Sims’ features make it so much more satisfying to create our own Sims in the game.

Not to mention mods for CAS, too. Some people have really put in their heart in making the game look either more aesthetically pleasing, or more realistic. Because of how the game still retains the cartoon-ish look for the Sims, some people might opt for these mods to make their Sims look more human-like.

Facial Asymmetry Slider mod for the Sims 4 CAS (screenshot taken from https://luumiasims.com/post/174006296684/ear-presets-6-different-ear-shapes-for-sims-aged)

You can say a lot about the Sims 4, but very few can deny that CAS in Sims 4 beats the rest of its predecessors.

The Graphics in Sims 4 is More Pleasing

A screenshot of a video game

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Unfortunately, graphics are everything nowadays, no? If the game is not up to par with the latest graphics found in other games, often than not they are considered inferior. Maybe that’s the reason why people keep playing these broken games—they are more pleasing to the eyes because of the graphics.

Jokes aside, the Sims 4 has much more improved graphics (although beaten by Sims 2 in terms of minute details). The game has a cartoonish art style, yes, but it is still one of the best-looking Sims games to date. If we take a look at the character models in Sims 4, they appear to be more detailed compared to even the Sims 3. They have more realistic skin textures, hair, and facial expressions, and even a wider range of body types to choose from.

That’s just the character models in general. There are some mods out there that really put the game engine—SmartSims—to some good use. I won’t tell you which, however; feel free to explore. The game also noticeably uses a new lighting system that creates more realistic shadows and reflections. It changes depending on the time of day and the weather conditions. I wouldn’t say that the predecessors do not have this, but it does look nicer in the Sims 4, and that the lighting doesn’t look pre-rendered.

Comparison screenshot for all main Sims titles (photo taken from https://sims4forum.com/threads/sims-4-graphics-comparison-sims-1-2-3.396/)

The Sims 4 has much higher resolution than in previous Sims games as well. This is also possibly why a lot of Sims players stick with Sims 4 and not Sims 3, despite having better rigs to run it. The worlds and objects in the game have improved models, and look a lot better with higher resolution.

Sims character models across all titles (photo taken from https://sims4forum.com/threads/sims-4-graphics-comparison-sims-1-2-3.396/)

Of course, not everyone is a fan of The Sims 4’s art style. Some people prefer graphics of previous Sims games. Though I would say, for many, The Sims 4’s graphics are definitely a step up from previous Sims games (if only they have put in more effort to make the game livelier than cash-grabbing scheme).

Like It or Not, The Sims 4 Definitely Performs Better

I think we all know why. Creativity is cut down in the Sims 4, especially in world management. The Sims 3 was way ahead of its time when it was first released; not too many computers could support the feature of open-world life simulation, with dozens (if not tens) of Sims being played out simultaneously. 

The Sims 4 cut down on the open-world system and made it so that only one lot was loaded at a time. This means a lot of loading screens every time you want to travel somewhere else apart from your Sims home. Want to go to the neighbour’s house? You will be taken to a loading screen to load the lot. Want to travel to the community library. Loading screen. Want to return home? Loading screen.

Sure, it does improve performance, by a massive ton. But with the caveat of only loading one lot at a time. Its previous title, the Sims 3, took a long time (long as in, a LONG time) to load the world, but that was all it took. Once you are loaded in, you can travel pretty much anywhere in the world without suffering from multiple loading screens.

Sims 3 world where you can travel anywhere in it without loading screens (photo taken from https://images.saymedia-content.com/.image/t_share/MTc0NDU3NzgwNzE4MTUxMzAy/sims-3-better-than-sims-4.png)

The fact that Sims 4 addressed this issue by changing the fundamental gameplay drastically does help with performance, but I’m not sure I’m fond of it. There is a mod available for you to download to experience almost similar core gameplay features in the Sims 3 called ‘Brookeheights’, but you will need additional expansion packs for it to run properly (which translates to spending money if you don’t have these DLC’s purchased).

I guess it’s fine, considering that the Sims 4 can be played on a potato laptop or PC and have no issues in running it. And that’s why so many people are bound to re-downloading and playing the Sims 4—the performance (combined with better graphics) far beats the laggy Sims 3.

Mods and Custom Contents Here are Definitely Top-Notch

One of the most popular modding community for the Sims 4 (screenshot taken from https://www.nexusmods.com/thesims4?tab=popular+%28all+time%29)

Let’s not deny it; mods are the one and only thing keeping old games alive for decades. A lot of games that support modding last really long—Left4Dead, Skyrim, Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Grand Theft Auto (name whichever title), and the Sims franchise. Mods are especially wild amongst the community, and they do improve the overall single-player experience. Sometimes the mods can be made for multiplayer as well—Left4Dead, for example.

Silly mods found in GTA San Andreas (screenshot taken from https://youtu.be/KgF9iNOLuBU)

Some mods are meant to make the single-player experience more enjoyable; others are meant to improve certain issues in the said game they are playing, and some are just for kicks and grins. And then for the Sims franchise, each and every Sims title does have its own modding community (can’t say the same for the first Sims title, however). But the source engine used in the Sims 4 allows for an exceptional modding opportunity for the community out there. Animations, graphical changes, gameplay experience—all these are possible in the Sims 4.

They are possible in previous titles, yes. But the source engine in the Sims 4 makes the mods look as if they are integral with the game, and not as a separate item. There are some animation mods that look more fluid in the Sims 4 than the animation mod found in the Sims 3 (and 2). I won’t tell you what mod it is, though. Feel free to explore on your own (Disclaimer: I’m not holding any accountability on what you might find).

The modding community in the previous titles of the Sims franchise, I wouldn’t call it dead, but it is not as active as you may expect from the one in the Sims 4. Just browse through the modding websites (mainly and some of the easiest ones out there include Nexus and The Sims Resource [TSR]), and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of mods that receive regular patches as the base game receives updates from Maxis.

Alive modding community means an alive game. This could be the biggest reason as to why a lot of people flock over the Sims 4 a lot more than its predecessors.

It’s Free!

The biggest reason of it all: it’s free. No harm in trying out free games, right? Just like how Epic Games announces weekly free games (remember when they announced GTA V for free in May 2020?), the fact that EA made such a drastic move in making the game free-to-play has lured in so many people to add the game to their Steam and Origin (now called Electronic Arts) library.

EA has mentioned that the Sims 4 had attracted more than 16 million new players since the base game went free-to-play in October 2022—quite up to par with GTA V when it was released for free (about 7 million users registered for Epic Games account to claim the free game).

Player count for the Sims 4 jumped over 133% when it was made free to play (screenshot taken from https://steamcharts.com/app/1222670)

I can’t blame them, honestly—I claimed a lot of free games on Epic Games store, and I played half of them. Alien: Isolation was made free on 21st December 2020, and I claimed (and played) the game. GTA V was made free sometime in May 2020, and I did just the same. Overcooked was made free on 11th June 2023, and I played it, too. So I would expect the same response from the people all around the world when they received the news that the Sims 4 was made free-to-play.

Of course, this is Electronic Art’s new method in luring in more potential cash-grabbing schemes by encouraging the new players to purchase the expansion/game/stuff packs available, but it worked like a charm. As compared to the previous titles, which are not available on either Steam nor Epic Games (possibly because they don’t want the game to be sold for discounted price during Summer/Winter/Autumn/Spring sales), the Sims 4 is the only game players can find on the popular game storefront (Steam). The Sims 1 and 2 are no longer available on EA’s website, and the Sims 3 is sold at a full price, still, despite being almost two decades old.

So the fact that the Sims 4 is free, and the game is technically playable even without purchasing the DLC packs they offer (and instead opt for mods and custom contents to enrich their gameplay experience), has made the game being the most successful title in the entire franchise, not-so surprisingly enough.

Verdict

Sims 4 gameplay.

I can’t really say that I don’t enjoy playing the Sims 4—I actually do enjoy playing it. With the custom contents and mods being made available for me to choose from, I really don’t see the reason to make a purchase on the older titles, at least not for a full price. But of course, I don’t condone the unethical scheme EA is trying to put forth to generate revenue on the almost 10-year-old game. 

The reputation is obviously tarnished, but the company still holds up. And they are not going away with this method of revenue stream any day—another incoming title called “Project Renee”, which people often mistake for the Sims 5, is going to be made free-to-play as well. So whilst the other competitors will be on the rise, namely Life by You and Paralives, none can truly beat a free game that offers functionality and features of what a base game would have.

But that remains to be seen. Let’s see how the next title turns out, eh?

Author

  • Muhammad Hariz

    A ’00 Malaysian freelance writer for MugenMilano. Occasionally writes for fun; otherwise, going to the gym and playing video games would be the R&R for Hariz. Having a keen interest in the area of gaming and technology, Hariz’s written materials would mostly be tech-related and gaming news, particularly in adventure, horror, and fighting genre. Doesn’t stop him from writing other interesting topics, though, as long as it is worth checking out.

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