If you read my home/about page, you will see that I use the Sims3 game for my story illustrations, scenes and character creation. At times, I even occasionally play the game! I have been a simmer since the first Sims 1 game came out. Of course back then, I played more than created. Over the years, as the game progressed and improved I became much more than just an addicted game player. The game’s evolution allowed me to use it in a much more creative way beyond just picking a character and playing through the game.
I have seen the game go from a somewhat silly little cartoony type game to a full scale creative platform that involves everything from the basics of game play and simple style creations with the addition of the color and pattern designer included in sims3, to realistic sim character creating, on to the highly detailed and sometimes complex building and world editing available in the game. In addition to those things, there is the even more creative outlet of world creation and custom content. It is so much more than just a game to a great many creative people who use all of the tools as outlets and starting points for their vast and seemingly unlimited talents. I have met so many of these talented people through out the years on the official Sims3 site, on the fan sites, and on the Facebook pages dedicated to the game. As I said, it goes far beyond just a simple game for most of us.
With the upcoming release of the new Sims4 game, I feel the need to address my ongoing concerns about it, and about EA’s treatment of it and of us- some of their most devoted fans and customers. As many of us will readily agree, there have been a huge number of issues surrounding the sims3 game and it’s playability. Yes, we complained about it a great deal, often became frustrated to the point of giving up on it, and then found our own ways of working around those problems to make the game workable for us. We worked together as users to solve the problems because most of the time EA was unwilling or unable to correct the problems. We banded together into a network of creative artists and stuck it out because of our love of the platform that the game gave us to create from.
When news of Sims4 started leaking out, we were all excited about the next level that the game might take us to. We have all seen the progress and evolution of the game and were expecting that the next stage would take us to an even greater level of creativity. During recent weeks, however, as EA has presented us all with the facts regarding the newest game platform, most of us are becoming concerned and disappointed in the direction the game is going. Rather than taking us to a higher level of creativity, it seems that EA has chosen to go backwards instead of forward with the game. Instead of addressing some of the current game issues and coming up with solutions to them in the next stage of the game, it appears that EA has merely chosen to do away with many of the things that they think might have been problems? In fact, it would appear from the most recent facts that they have released, they have decided to go back to a simpler, cartoon like format of basic game play. The cartoon aspect is quite apparent with the promotional videos and screen shots they have released of the sim characters and the buildings.
EA is attempting to promote the game advancements in the area of sim creation, going into great detail about how much more creativity there is in that creation, and about their new system of creating the sims. One would think that if that was what they were promoting, they would give us better demonstrations and photos of the results. Not so… from what I have seen, the characters are far from more creative or realistic. They resemble more, the sim characters of sims2. Along with that, the process of creating them does look easier, in fact it looks to be much more of an involved and difficult process for most people to become proficient at. In addition to that, they have taken away some important details from the character creation. In the current and previous games, teens were slightly shorter than adults. This made it a bit easier to differentiate them in the game. Now, it seems that teens will be the same height as adults. I am assuming this is a way to avoid having to create separate clothing options for them. This was long a complaint from users, the lack of clothing options for teen sims. It would have been a more basic and simple solution to just offer more clothing options and varieties for teens! We would have happily purchased them from the store if they had made them available. Lord knows, we have spent more than enough cash on other items from the official EA store for on any number of other items they offered. Another odd deletion on their part, is a more recent leak about toddlers, and either not being used or not being aged up. There is not enough clear information on this speculation for me to make an adequate or reliable comment on it so I will not deal with that here.
Most of the concerns of creators and story tellers involve the world editing, limits and the building limitations that are now coming out surrounding the game. There are so many concerns over these limits and deletions that I can not even begin to list them all here. What I can give you are some links to Facebook discussions and EA Sims forum threads devoted to all of our concerns.
I am listing a number of various links to information and posts concerning the upcoming Sims4
This is one of the official blog posts offered by EA
Here is an official photo of the Sims 4… showing no toddler sim?!
From what I can gather right now, it appears that EA and maxis (the original creative team for sims and sims 2- and of whom we had such high hopes from 😦 ) have taken the game in a much more limiting and backwards direction than any of us could have imagined. The announcement that there are no pools with the basic game was one of the most extreme and oddest deletions ever! Even with the sims 1, swimming pools were available from the start, and were a huge part of game play and story telling. One of the oddest things for me to comprehend or understand their reasonings on this deletions is the fact that while they are not offering swimming pools, they are offering a build mode for fountain creations, which in essence are on the same level as pool creating. So, why on earth would you choose to offer us the creation of a fountain but not the creation of a swimming pool? My only conclusion is that the fountains are décor related and contain no real sim interaction so they were lazy in some way or another and did not want to spend time on creating the sim interactions and functions that go into the pool creation?!
Create a Style Concerns
As I’ve previously mentioned, there are so many limits and constraints to this new version of the game that I am not even going to go attempt to list all of them other than those that seem to be causing the greatest concerns and disappointments for the creators out there! The biggest disappointment and concern, aside from such things as no toddlers, no pools, no this, no that….is the elimination of the color and pattern customization or Create a Style. For most of the builders, the designers, and sim creators, the pattern and color customizer is essential in creating all of the unique and, even basic matching designs. For me, it is one of the most important features of the game and without it, I don’t really feel that I can do much if anything, with the basic and most times, mismatching color and pattern combinations the creator of the game offer us. It seems that they have made the decision to go back to a format such as used by sims 2, whereby they might offer an item in a few different colors or patterns and there would be no way to customize those within the basic framework and limits of the game. What this creates is the need for even more custom content on a piece by piece downloading process into one’s game. through out the sims 3 we saw and encountered the numerous issues and problems with having custom content in our games. For many people it ended in disaster and having to completely uninstall the game and reinstall it in order to fix the issues. I do understand that the CAS system involves a great deal of additional file space, memory and does cause some game lags over time. For me personally, it is however a more than equal trade off or compromise as opposed to having to download massive amounts of custom content just to get a room décor that matches and does not look like a cartoon from Hell!
Building and World Concerns
For most of the builders and story tellers, the limits they are placing on building, landscaping, and world editing are major concerns that lead us to thoughts of not continuing on to this so called next level of the game evolution. They have taken away much of the creative process of building, replacing it with what they claim is a much easier way for everyone to create and enjoy the game. In my opinion, what they have done is taken away our creativity tools and replaced it with some form of pre-fab construction. From what I can understand of it, it will put in place a system that essentially eliminates a reason or desire to create and share with others on any type of exchange or uploading. Why? Because if it all based on some sort of pre-fab placement system with so many limits and constraints on it, then really why bother with sharing your basic creation which anyone else could easily come up with on their own?!
The limits and constraints of the world editing cause no end of concerns to creators and story tellers. There will be no ability to edit or change the existing community or neighborhood… This is one of those changes that they have admitted to rather recently. Originally, they caught our interest with saying that there would be even greater options for neighborhood editing and creations. I can not even begin to describe to you what a nightmare this poses for story tellers and movie makers! At this point, all I can imagine doing is creating every single filming set or location from scratch on a lot that you create and control. Yes, this is basically what I do now, but that is due to the uniqueness of my particular story needs. I do also have right now, the option of going into world edit and making some adjustments to surrounding areas that might interfere with my filming. Removing even that option for me would be a complete deal breaker in my opinion.
In another move backwards, they have returned to a format of a more closed world or neighborhood as was in the previous sims editions. You will have a small pre-set neighborhood to work within, which in my thought, would greatly impact filming or photo taking of the outdoors. If you want to go anywhere else other than your small neighborhood, there will be a pause with loading screens to get you to where ever else you are going. They are promoting a system that they say will now allow you to travel, visit, work in any other destination that you choose away from your lot and insisting that is an advancement of the open world system. In reality, it is still a closed system, much like Sims 2.
My over all concerns and thoughts on the new game and EA
I knew from the beginning that there would be some difficulties in any transition to a new game base and accepted that. I also knew from the beginning that the base game would not be one that I could easily work with for the purposes of my story project. Still, even with those considerations in mind, I was interested and looking forward to what the new level of the game would provide us with as far as creativity. Now, I can honestly say that I am so disappointed in the route they are going that I am unsure as to whether I will even bother to purchase the game and try it out.
These are my personal thoughts on where EA and Maxis are heading with this “new” version of the game. Yes, EA chose to partner with Maxis again in their attempts to breathe life into a game that they were unable to maintain in any acceptable manner. But, what Maxis has done, in my opinion, is take the game straight back to their former sims 2 format rather than expand on the Sims 3 format. They have failed to take into account that many parts of the sims 3 format work, and are what has kept us sticking with them over the years. They chose to revert back to a system that they felt comfortable with rather than truly take the game to any more in depth level. Many of us thought that the partnership with Maxis would be a good thing, that they would get involved and be able to fix the parts that were not working and still continue to develop the game to a higher level. Apparently, they have not chosen to do this… So, while I am disappointed with EA, I am even more disappointed with Maxis for remaining stuck in an old already done system and failing to take this game to a higher level.
From what I can determine at this point, the new game seems geared to a far more basic level and audience of users. They have stripped the game back down to the most basics of functions and limits in order to promote it as one more easily used on older computers, tablets, and possibly even phones? To me it feels like they are putting it on a level of not so much a computer game, but more as one available on Facebook! Really… if I wanted that sort of game, there are already more than enough of those types of games out there. I do not need or want another one of that quality! I do not spend money on the Face book sort of games, and I will not spend money on this sort of computer game.
I understand that they are trying to appeal to a broader base of users in this attempt and of course that money is as always, their bottom line. They are assuming that by appealing to a much broader audience that they will increase their profits. EA, after all does have a long history of only being concerned about customer spending, not customer satisfaction! What they do not take into consideration is the money base of their so called valued customers. What I am trying to get at here is the fact that a large number of Sims 3 fans are adults with enough cash to afford this money consuming game. The game is a very expensive hobby for most of us, and despite the number of problems associated with it, we have remained loyal to it and spent enormous amounts of money it, with the expansion packs, the added worlds, the store items and such. We are highly creative, intelligent adults who choose to spend our money on your often over priced product. We are fans who also spend money on our computers in order to play this game and others of even higher graphics quality than yours. You, EA seem to be overlooking us in favor of a far less dedicated and often fickle audience. In essence, you seem to be dumbing down the game to appeal to younger, less able to pay, users. You assume that we as loyal Sims 3 fans will follow you into this next level of the game without fail or question. What you should realize, EA, is that you lost a great many fans already due to the problems associated with Sims 3. Those fans will most likely not take another chance with you on the new version. In addition to those losses you have already incurred, you will undoubtedly lose another mass of fans and paying customers by going the route you are choosing with Sims 4. Many of us are hanging on the edge already in our decision whether to invest in the game. I say invest, because that is how we as adult with cash to spend on this hobby look at the game. We do not look at it as a one time purchase to amuse ourselves for a short time. We look at it as an investment in a continued interest and life long hobby. Most of the users I know use it for far more than simple game playing. They have taken it to highly involved detailed levels with photography, sim creation and modeling, interior design, building and landscaping design. They spend vast amounts of money on your products for these purposes and they do expect some level of quality in return! Many of these users may take a chance and try the new game, but I can most certainly assure you that they will not remain with you, will not continue to spend money on this next game should you not listen or address their issues, their concerns and their disappointments with it. Should you fail in this new attempt, you will be left with your “broader” market of new users who may not be as forgiving or loyal as your previous customer base was. One of the most basic rules of marketing and retail is customer satisfaction… satisfied consumers return and become loyal consumers of one’s product. Dissatisfied customers often say little to your face, but leave your product and voice their dissatisfaction to anyone they come into contact with. They will relate their experience to friends, to family, to fellow users, to any number of places through out the world wide network of the internet. How much profit do you think you lose because of that unvoiced dissatisfaction with your product? Just because they tired of complaining and asking you for assistance does not mean that they went away satisfied and content to struggle on in silence.
For me personally, what all of this comes down to right now, is the fact that I will not continue to invest in the next level of this game blindly. I will not follow you into this new game like a sheep with an unlimited wallet tied to my neck and I do not think that many others will either. They may, as I mentioned, take a risk on the first game but few will continue on with you if you offer us so little as compared to what we already with the present game… If you can not even provide us with a toddler, or something so basic as a swimming pool in the base game, what would lead us to believe that you are offering us a new and better experience?!
I am sorry for the length of this review and for the venting of my frustrations, but I did feel the need to express it here!