What game has eleven expansion packs and thirteen other downloadable content packs, currently costs $519.75 before tax after purchasing all of this content, and would cost $770 if purchased at full retail? If you answered The Sims 3, you’d be absolutely correct! With The Sims 4 coming out on the Mac on February 17, I thought I’d take a look at what the previous generation game looked like, what it brought to the table, and if it would be worth the Mac investment for the Sims lover.
But First an Explanation
The Sims series is a life simulation engine that lets you create people and personalities, and put them in situations to create stories. It is open ended - there is no end necessarily - and it lets you build and design a home to your heart’s content. The game (without enabling cheats) lets your Sim go to work in a desired profession, and use the money for your house to decorate as you see fit. You can have relationships, pets, college, and world adventures, but only if you’re willing to pay. Without twenty-four established content packages, the basic game is $20 and an abysmal neutered experience. You can strictly play the basic mechanics, but all of the flavor and flair is absent. You build a house, have a spouse, have a job, and thats it. Want to live on an exotic island? That’ll be twenty bucks. Want pets? Twenty bucks. Want to experience college life? You got it, twenty bucks. Get where I’m going with this? If you want to really play, you have to pay.
DLC Never Used To Be
Downloadable content has been the hallmark of an internet enabled game. Producing content at the finish before the existence of the Internet meant having a stable game release that could be minted to a CD for customers to enjoy without worry. If the game was unstable or unfinished, it didn’t make it. If a developer wanted to go add content later, an expansion pack was created, but was larger and more feature complete to justify the creation of a CD just for an expansion pack. With the digital age, we are now bastardizing downloadable content to at best let customers pick and choose what more content they want, and at worst, hide the fact that the game costs over five hundred dollars. You couldn’t ask EA to develop a Game of the Year version (gaming’s version of a paperback book) that included the DLC because it would be well over several hundred dollars. At the time of writing, there is a sale going on over at Origin, the distributor for EA, and if you purchased all of the content mentioned above, it would still cost you 260 bucks. For a game that is five years old with the last expansion pack released in 2013. That's not the kicker, if you want to keep current and purchase the expansions at forty bucks and the main game at seventy, you're looking at a game that is at that $770 mark. For a simulation. Over a five year period and including the two hundred in incidentals, turns into a monthly price tag of $16.66.
Welcome to the Circus of Value
When it's all said and done, I feel like there are two sides to this story. On the one hand, if you assume positive intent, you can say that The Sims and EA are creating an open world by starting with a base and letting you add only content you want à la carte and customize from there. On the negative side, there are people who want to play a complete game with all of the expansions and additional content and are willing to pay for it, but not on the tune to hundreds of dollars. And the reality is, most people probably won't purchase everything. But for cost conscious gamers, buying a product that is many years old normally means solid savings and avoiding the major problems new games get. Not so for The Sims 3. There are game ruining bugs that haven't been fixed yet, and four months in Sims 4, have no reason to fix at this point. And speaking anecdotally, my wife has lost many game saves and hours lost due to these bugs. They want you to move to Sims 4 - for another $40. Plus $20 for the "game packs" and $40 for "Get to Work" (via IGN) when it's released in April.
The Sims franchise is a ripoff from a sheer numbers standpoint, and not worthy of purchase on release. Clearly waiting for the prices to come down become more desirable (like how the Sims 4, which was $60 is now $40), but because of the continual hampering of features and the anti-consumer practices like making SimPoints from Sims 3 not compatible with Sims 4, its an obvious money grab that should be avoided.