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We Need a ‘The Sims 4 ‘Competitor! Why don’t We Have One?

The Sims franchise has been a part of my life ever since the first game came out. It was one of two games I camped outside of a store for, the other one being Black & White. I always found its mundane nature fascinating. Whilst others strive to become the universe’s greatest hero in action-packed, cinematic tales of heroism, I’m often quite happy with the endorphin-rush that building a nice house brings with it, or managing to get my Sim on the toilet before a nasty disaster happens on the kitchen floor.
Thankfully, (no really, I’m thankful for that, otherwise I’d have to consider myself the most boring person on this planet) I’m not alone in craving the mundane world of The Sims. Over the years though, I often asked myself: where are all the competitors for the Sims franchise? There should be dozens of games emulating The Sims; Electronic Arts shouldn’t have a full-on monopoly on a whole genre!

Here is where it all began. All the pool-drownings, that is. Insiders will know.

I wish I could give you an answer to that question, but this is one of the few times that I can’t even seem to pull something out of my arse to explain away a phenomenon I don’t really understand. It can’t be the complexity of such an endeavor. Time and time again have small studios shown that with the right amount of brains and talent, David can best and outlast Goliath. A very good example for that is Cities: Skylines, and how Colossal Order single-handedly–almost effortlessly–removed SimCity from the city builder and city management throne. And that’s not even mentioning the various AA and AAA publishers who have the financial power to pull a Sims-like project off without breaking a sweat.

A Sims competitor wouldn’t have to have to be as comprehensive as The Sims is. You wouldn’t have to simulate a whole neighborhood like The Sims does in order to get a satisfying gameplay loop out of such a game. Focusing completely on the household, or even foregoing all other aspects of the game in order to concentrate on the household and household member interactions exclusively could be a successful formula, to name one possibility, of changing the formula a little bit in order to accommodate a non-EA-sized budget.

Yep, The Sims is pure escapism. Escaping from real life into… uhm… mini real life.

It almost doesn’t need to be said, but bringing competition to this one-game genre would also put some pressure on EA to step up their game. The makers of The Sims have become terribly complacent. Knowing that there is no one else to go to, they regularly churn out expansions, half-expansions and content sets at prices that would make even entities like Ubisoft blush. Sets of decorative re-skins marketed as themed furniture packs can go for as much as $US15. Some hearty, earnest competition would not only make it that much more likely for such horrendous prices to go down, but would also force innovation into EA’s Maxis department. Innovation, as always, is good for everyone.

Everything else I could write at this point would be pure speculation. I honestly don’t know why no one took the risk upon themselves to challenge EA. From the outside, it looks like there is this giant market share pie, that no one wants to have or eat. Therefore, dear esteemed and valued readers of this distinguished virtual gazette: what do you think? What are your theories regarding the lack of competition for The Sims? Is it pure fear? Too much of a financial risk? Is it simple and banal disinterest in the genre? I’m keen to hear your opinions.

-Falko (Follow me on twitter)