If you’re a Sims fan, you might have noticed that the way EA is handling The Sims 4 is quite different to how things worked in previous installments in the franchise. Next month, The Sims 4 will be 2 years old. In those 2 years, we’ve had 8 stuff packs, 3 game packs, 19 free updates that included new features, but only 2 expansion packs. In comparison, in its first 2 years, The Sims 3 had 4 expansion packs and 3 stuff packs, not to mention the massive amount of content available to purchase on the Sims 3 online store.
While most of the packs released to date for The Sims 4 have been quality products, the lack of expansion packs means that, 2 years in, we still don’t have some of the gameplay features players have been yearning for since the game’s initial release. I love new stuff to add to my Sims game, but without new expansion packs, there is a limit to the new experiences you can have in the game. In 2016, we haven’t even had a new career path to conquer. The only significant new gameplay introduced this year was the restaurant system in the Dine Out game pack.
2016 has also been an erratic year in terms of updates and communication from the Sims team. There have been months of no new information about the game at all, leading to frustration in the community. There was no news about The Sims 4 at E3, and EA recently confirmed that there will be no Sims announcement at Gamescom either.
[quote]”We will not be making any announcements at Gamescom this year and will not be on the show floor. However, we will have a closed panel + Q&A with Rachel and Lyndsay about the Sims Franchise. If you’re going to be at Gamescom let us know! We’d love to meet you.”[/quote]
This is disappointing news for fans who have been chomping at the bit for any scraps of information about if and when there will be new gameplay content for The Sims 4. The team’s reluctance to share information is understandable given how the community reacted to last year’s Gamescom announcement, or the backlash from announcements about the lack of pools and toddlers in the base game, and SimGuru Drake explained as much over on the Sims official forums:
[quote]”We aren’t ashamed to announce anything, I’ve actually been very excited about sharing the stuff we have shown so far and have not hidden my enthusiasm for them from any of you. We would rather do a full reveal of a product when we can continue talking about it from that moment onwards rather than say something and then disappear. An example of this is last year with EP2, there were a lot of conversations in the forums about lack of updates between Gamescom tease reveal and when we could do the full on reveal.”[/quote]
She also added that something is in the pipeline at the Sims studio, but presumably they don’t have anything to share just yet:
[quote]”You’ve already seen this year the hard work that our engagement team has been doing with their free updates and what the SP and GP teams have been doing with their content–know that the EP team is hard at work as well.”[/quote]
SimGuru Graham recently took to the forums to explain a bit more about how the Sims 4 development process works:
[quote] “The biggest change is for us internally, with the way our studio approaches development. If you look back at The Sims 3, we weren’t nearly as responsive to issues, or nimble with shuffling pack resources as we can be with our current approach. For most of its life, The Sims 3 had one expansion team, and one store team – each group fairly siloed in the content it developed. For a period of time a second expansion team in Salt Lake was added, but the flexible schedule we have currently wasn’t possible then. Back then we would develop our pack, they would develop their pack, and occasionally we would combine our code & assets together. Patches were relatively infrequent on Sims 3 – if there was a problem in an expansion pack, it wasn’t uncommon for it to not be fixed until the update for the following expansion pack. That problem was exacerbated with the addition of the Salt Lake team, where alternating expansion packs between the teams meant it could sometimes take a year for an issue from a pack to be addressed.
Operating as a live service removes a lot of those challenges I described in The Sims 3 for us. We have an expansion team, a game pack team, a stuff pack team, and an engagement team (engagement = the free content in game updates). We all sit together intermingled in the same studio, we develop multiple packs simultaneously between our teams, and our code and assets between those packs are integrated together daily (super important for facilitating simultaneous development of different packs).”[/quote]
I am definitely a fan of the way the Sims team has handled updates, free content and the stuff and game packs. What I’m not so happy with, and the various Sims fan websites and forums suggest that I’m not alone in feeling this way, is the long periods with no communication whatsoever. While we are assured that new content is always being developed, we are often in the dark as to what that content might be. And now, 8 months since the last expansion pack, I am desperate to know what the next expansion will be and when we can expect it.