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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)

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  1. It’s a good question. My opinion is that the Sims targets mostly normies, and as such a competitor would have a hard time standing out against the Sims brand, even if it was better. Would like to hear more from people who’ve played games from the series before though.

    • Well unfortunately I don’t agree with what you said. I am a fan of the series where I played sims 2 , sims 3 and sims 4. Even though the game is excellent there are still things that could be much better. If they would be a life simulation game created by Rockstar per say. I am confident that it would be much better and it would stand extremely well against sims 4 even potentially outclassing it in every aspects. It doesn’t need to necessarily be Rockstar any companies that put their mind into it could be a great competitor. They’re is one person creating a game name Paralife that would go toe to toe against the sims. It looks extremely promising so far even though it’s probably 1 year away but keep in mind this is only one person creating the game. If it would be a big game company with the resources and with tons of talented game developers then the sky is the limit. Everything comes down about the lack of motivation to jump into the Life simulation genre.

      • Well put, I hope this Paralife project comes to pass.

      • I’ve been following this developer of Paralife and I’ve become a supporter as well, because of his transparency and interaction with his followers and supporters asking for out opinion and input and creativity. He’s currently looking for more creative help in making the parafolks themselves and is need of artists and animators. Not sure if he found any, but his teasers on his website and YT show his progress is going good and I am proud to push his efforts, as long as he remains true to his word. Type text here…

      • Paralives, not Paralife.

  2. omegasquall5 on November 23, 2019 at 5:45 pm said

    I completely agree with this article but sadly I don’t see a competitor any time soon.

  3. Hello first and foremost. Really well written article which I agree 100%. I think the reason why companies don’t risk to go there is maybe they don’t think about that genre LIFE SIMULATION much. I believe if companies like Naughty Dog or Rockstar would put they mind into it , they could create something extraordinary and would put EA into share. If fans would request that to other Game Developers maybe they could take notice and jump into the Life Simulation genre. I do wish they would be more competition this way it would push EA to innovate as you have well said.

  4. Superb article. I have only very recently gotten into the sims via Sims 4, which I had mainly bought for my daughter. This was also my first experience of Origin and present day EA. My god, the prices of some of the expansion packs are as much as full priced game. Plus it is extremely buggy – my house sank into the earth. Going by the forums this has been a problem for quite a while and it still hasn’t been patched out. EA appear to have complete disinterest is what the player base wants. I have seen countless requests for a simple ‘disable woohoo’ option but EA point blank refuses. I will not be spending a single penny more on EA until they get their act together and stop being so overtly anti-consumer.

  5. Actually, there seems to be a competitor in the making! A game called Paralives is being developed by an indie dev (cant remember his name right now) and it looks really good!

  6. Wandering sim on November 24, 2019 at 5:41 pm said

    There is one in the works. Look up paralives.

  7. I believe the game you’re searching for here is Paralives.

  8. Growing up I put hours and hours into the first sims. I only put a couple hours into Sims 2 but I don’t remember it at all anymore other than it running horrible on my PC back in the day. I enjoyed the first so much though when EA was giving Sims 4 out for free I decided to give it a try but I never downloaded it after looking it up on YouTube to see what the gameplay is like. It definitely seems like EA has turned the series into something more oriented for women instead of everyone like the original. I know my brother who actually did download the game said it was horrible and didn’t get past the character creator lol. I might try it one day but at the moment I’m more interested in playing the first game again though I lost the disc over a decade ago.

  9. As someone who’s played all the way through Sims 3 but was turned off by Sims 4’s regression of features, I can say that although I agree that The Sims could use competition, I don’t see it really happening.

    Many who play this game wouldn’t even be classified as “casual” gamers as this is the ONLY game they play, similar to how you wouldn’t classify someone who only played Minesweeper or Solitaire a gamer. As such, they’re unlikely to even look for alternative games and so much of the potential market for a competitor is locked away, with the others either having invested too much into the current Sims iteration already (8 expansions x 40 = one hell of a sunk cost fallacy) or being too nervous about an untested and unproven competitor (Sims DOES have great home customization and RP options at its core and that’s not cheap to develop).

    Perhaps a competitor COULD swoop in when (and IF) EA announces Sims 5, since people will be gearing up for “something new” anyway. But even then, the market for this game is rather niche, so I don’t see much shift occurring any time soon.

  10. CerealKilluh on November 25, 2019 at 7:36 am said

    But there is a competitor.. Paralives.. And so far if you can ignore the cartoony vibes its an actual better game seeing as you can do much more than the sims when it comes to building, including curved walls, address,.. And much more. However its not out yet, still being created. Hopefully he will be done with it soon.

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