In a recent post on EA’s official blog, Maxis producer George Darshall said that the next “logical step for the Sims series is a fully multiplayer, fully interactive online cooperative experience, featuring all of the features of always online capability.”
Talking in some depth about a possible Sims 4 release in winter of 2013, Darshall said that the Sims and all its 18 expansions had gone as far as it could as a single player game, and it was finally time to apply some of that EA DLC, DRM, and free-to-play glamour that consumers are so enjoying.
“We thought about what we could do with the game, sitting around a table with EA, and just decided that the best place to take the franchise – for the consumers of course – would be to give everyone a house, and the basics, for free, but charge an optional fee for extra items. We are completely against pay-to-win, so none of the items will give a distinct advantage over other players in the game world,” said the producer. “Well, aside from the fact that in this installment, Simoleons are replaced with your regions currency,” he continued.
“This way, players have the ultimate freedom over what they buy. Instead of the $70-80 package and expansions, people can literally play the entire game for free for as long as they want, paying for features such as: repairing their TV, ordering pizza, going on dates, as extra content. This gives the consumer more choice, and allows them to stretch their budgets over a greater length of time. On top of that, there’s 58372 optional clothing accessories and items priced at only $7.99 each. If you were to buy all of the Sims 3 expansions in a row at this stage – given EA’s sale prices – that’d be an astronomical cost, right? But this way, you only have to buy the things you want… things you could download for free from dedicated modders, but at a premium price, so you know it’s better.”
When asked about possible expansion towns for the game, and other social capabilities, Darshall explained that marginalizing sensitive demographics by pressuring them into paying for nonsensical decorative items was really the only economic way forward: “Despite taking in astronomical sales revenue, we feel as though free-to-play is the only economic way forward. Give people the base product for free, get them hooked, and orchestrate pressurizing social mechanisms in order to slowly, over time, milk people of more cash than they’d otherwise have spent under the classical model. This is great for us, because it means a constant stream of revenue for the franchise relying on cheap and easy to produce content.”
Darshall went on to explain how towns and city expansions will be replaced by subscriptions to new city areas for limited periods of time, or the ability to purchase a life-time subscription to areas, which will come with free guest passes for a limited time. In response to criticism over the franchise’s new direction, Darshall had this to say:
“Well of course people are going to criticize EA. That’s the cool thing to do right now. It’s like if you went into a restaurant, ordered a $40 meal, and got handed a single, tiny course, with an optional dessert on the side at an inflated, ridiculous price. You walked in the restaurant; you saw the terrible prices, and you ignored everything we did to cover up the abysmal quality of the food – it’s your own fault for shopping with that restaurant,” the producer snubbed. “These morons make their own decisions, if there’s a market for it, we’ll be there to milk it – that’s business.”
The producer finally talked about the “always on DRM” featured in The Sims 4, stating that it isn’t DRM, it’s just an MMO.
“No one criticizes World of Warcraft for its DRM, or World of Tanks, or any other MMO, but when we suddenly take a venerable, in depth, and mechanically consistent franchise and turn it into a bloated Facebook social game, charging for low quality content at high prices, suddenly it’s not okay. Everyone has an internet connection. If you don’t have an internet connection, what are you some kind of Inuit? What’s wrong with these people? Their net goes down and suddenly it’s EA’s fault that they can’t play the products they paid for. Read the small print, morons.”
This installment, it is confirmed, will also fully utilize EA’s Frostbite 3 engine, which “produces ultra-realistic Sim ageing” and “looks pretty good I guess.”
The Sims 4 doesn’t have a release date yet, but it’s been confirmed that this will be released as $7.99 DLC closer to the time of release.