The Sims legacy began on February 4, 2000, when it was released as a video game by the team of Electronic Arts and Maxis. The developers, Maxis, brought forth a simulation-style game that primarily focused on the daily lives of a simulated human being. Electronic Arts was the publishing company responsible for unleashing a game to an audience that couldn’t get enough of it. The fact we are now in 2023 and The Sims franchise continues to reign supreme as one of the best life simulation games on the market has proven this.
When The Sims was released as a sandbox game, it took life simulation scenarios played by gamers to a whole new level. The inspiration to introduce The Sims to a worldwide audience came from 1989’s SimCity, which is another Maxis-developed series that met with tremendous success.
Instead of building and managing cities, The Sims focused on building and managing people, as well as the homes they lived in. That management included choosing career paths and pursuing hobbies and interests as a “Sim” in a little world players would create as their own. This idea game for game designer Will Wright after he lost his home in the 1991 Oakland firestorm that forced him to build his life back up from scratch. As he put his own life together, he was inspired to create a simulated version of his own life experiences.
When the idea was first brought to the Maxis board of directors, they didn’t share Wright’s enthusiasm and were reluctant to offer the same level of support he received from SimCity. This changed when Electronic Arts bought Maxis in 1997. For EA, expanding a Sim franchise that started with a single neighborhood instead of an entire city was appealing. The success received from SimCity was enough for EA to finance Wright’s latest vision as a game creator.
Originally, The Sims was designed to poke fun at American culture. The Sims owe its creation to the ideas Wright took from a series of publications that peered into architecture, urban designs, and psychology. When the game was released for Microsoft Windows on February 4, 2000, it quickly became the best-selling PC game after selling more than six million copies worldwide in just six weeks. This surpassed Broderbund’s massively popular game, Myst.
By February 2005, The Sims and its seven expansion packs sold more than sixteen million copies worldwide. The seven expansion packs were Livin’ Large, House Party, Hot Date, Vacation, Unleashed, Superstar, and Makin’ Magic. By this time, the world of The Sims was no longer restricted to just managing at least one house in a designated neighborhood. It expanded to include the dating life of Simmers, as well as vacations and other popular favorites that continue to shape mankind’s culture today.
Thanks to the success of The Sims, Maxis and Electronic Arts teamed up to release its first sequel, The Sims 2. This highly anticipated game was first released on September 14, 2004, and used a full 3D environment as opposed to the dimetric projection that was used in the original game. This new generation of Sims also had new dynamics added to the game such as aspiration goals, fears, and a seven-day calendar.
The calendar introduced which days of the week adult Simmers worked and which ones they took off. This also applied to children Simmers as holidays and weekends were their designated days off from going to school. This allowed the entire household to spend some quality time together as a family.
Like the first game, The Sims 2 had its own collection of expansion packs. There were eight of those, as well as nine stuff packs. There was also a special store for The Sims 2 that had over four hundred items available for members of its gaming community. The eight expansion packs for The Sims 2 were University, Nightlife, Open for Business, Pets, Seasons, Bon Voyage, Free Time, and Apartment Life.
It would be The Sims 2 its gaming community would see the introduction of household pets to join as a member of a Simmer’s household. There was also the opportunity to run more than just a home. Now Simmers could run a business as well. What The Sims 2 did was open up the door for new possibilities for a fan base that kept demanding more.
Released on June 2, 2009, The Sims 3 became the latest game to join the franchise. In the first week alone, it sold well over one million games. It became the largest release in PC gaming history at the time. In addition to The Sims 3, there were eleven expansion packs that would provide gamers additional opportunities to build a Simmer’s world however they saw fit.
That world included residential neighborhoods, businesses, vacation destinations, seasonal settings, and schools. The eleven expansion packs were World Adventures, Ambitions, Late Night, Generations, Pets, Showtime, Supernatural, Seasons, University Life, Island Paradise, and Into the Future.
It was during this time, that The Sims Social was introduced as a flash-based game that was played on Facebook’s social media platform. From August 2011 until June 2013 it had a player base that complained more about this version of The Sims than enjoyed it. As a result, it was taken down about a year before The Sims 4 would spring up as the newest member of The Sims family.
On September 2, 2014, The Sims 4 was released with some mixed reviews from the fans of what was still an intensely popular franchise. Many members of its community didn’t care for the cartoonish approach Maxis and Electronic Arts took with the new breed of Sims that were created. The Sims 3 had its Simmers seem more realistic by appearance and this was something that was heavily criticized by the fans who had been so loyal to this franchise as far back as day one.
Thanks to talented members of the modding community, the realism of Simmers was restored as many used The Sims 3 as a base to import what was designed there over to the new game. Since doing so, the popularity of The Sims 4 has risen and won back many fans who felt betrayed by EA and Maxis at first.
Today, The Sims 4 has fourteen expansion packs. They are Get to Work, Get Together, City Living, Cats & Dogs, Seasons, Get Famous, Island Living, Discover University, Eco Lifestyle, Snowy Escape, Cottage Living, High School Years, Growing Together, and Horse Ranch. In addition to these, there are also twelve game packs. They are Outdoor Retreat, Spa Day, Dine Out, Vampires, Parenthood, Jungle Adventure, StrangerVille, Realm of Magic, Star Wars: Journey to Batuu, Dream Home Decorator, My Wedding Stories, and Werewolves.
Furthermore, the tradition of stuff packs has also been a big part of The Sims 4 world. These, along with the expansion and game packs, have helped the popularity level of The Sims 4 keep a solid fan base that is now asking if there will be a fifth game in the series.
At the moment, Project Rene has been set to be the next installment to The Sims franchise. Maxis made this announcement on October 18, 2022, and since then fans of this gaming community have been keeping a close watch on its progress. This new edition to The Sims is supposed to allow gamers to play solo or collaborative. There is a promise of further customization options, which has been a big demand among members of its gaming community since the beginning.
At the moment, Maxi hasn’t come up with an official title to call the newest member of The Sims. For now, the fans are simply calling it The Sims 5. In the meantime, they’re still content to play The Sims 4.
In addition to the four main games that sum up The Sims legacy, there have been spin-offs released to keep members of this gaming community entertained. Those spin-offs include 2007’s The Sims Stories and 2011’s The Sims Medieval and its own spin-off, Pirates and Nobles. The popularity of medieval-themed content is carried into The Sims 4, especially by modders who often respond to the requests made by fans who are currently playing it.
Perhaps as popular as The Sims franchise itself is the talented team of modders that have elevated the gaming experience for fans worldwide. Popular modding sites such as Mod the Sims and The Sims Resource have millions of loyal fans who have subscribed to their services. These two are among the longest-running sites that have been modding The Sims ever since The release of The Sims 2.
In many cases, the amount of customized content fans download to enhance whatever version of The Sims they’re playing will outnumber what the base game already came up with. This even includes the expansion, game, and stuff packs. In fact, many players credit members of the modding community as the main reason why The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims 4 have been so popular.
There are even some that will suggest if it wasn’t for the modders, The Sims 4 would not have been as successful as its predecessors. When The Sims 4 was first released, the majority of the franchise’s gaming community felt betrayed. Instead of sticking to a realism-style formula The Sims 3 had with its Simmers, The Sims 4 was considerably more cartoonish.
What members of the modding community did was swoop in and save the day with customized content that used the same formula The Sims 3 did as a base model. Hopefully, as EA and Maxis work on the newest edition to The Sims franchise they continue to allow modding as a means to keep its legacy alive.