The Sims series is one of the world’s most popular game franchises of all time, selling over 200 million copies worldwide over the span of its 17-year long existence. There have been some great installments of the series including the main games and the spin-offs, but what a lot of fans don’t know is that there once was a game called The Sims Online – an MMO that ran for 8 years before ultimately being shut down.
The Sims online started out life as a dumbed-down version of its predecessor back in 2002. Players could live in one of four cities, each with a varying degree of difficulty, and level up their skills to then earn rewards and promotions in one four occupations available. It had some admittedly good ideas, but there was a clear lack of effort when it came to actually implementing them. Between the inadequate amount of effort and what appeared to be a shortage of advertisement, The Sims Online slowly faded into obscurity. It was officially declared dead by the dwindling fanbase once Second Life became popular. It was recently renewed by some devoted fans with some updates, but interest in the renewal seems to be quite limited.
There were other offshoots of a sort of online Sims experience in games The Sims Social on Facebook, but even that was shut down a few years back. Still, there seem to be quite a few fans out there looking for a Sims MMO. A Reddit post from about a year ago expresses this in detail. So, with all the advancements the Sims series has made since its initial introduction to the world in 2000, should they take another crack at making an MMO?
Well, before we can go about answering the question, we need to look at the logistics of the game. What is it that makes the Sims series so popular? For many players, it’s about having the ability to control and micromanage a life, while others simply enjoy the building and more creative aspects. I think most RPGs give you that aforementioned control, and the rise of MMOs like WildStar and Ultima Online, prove that it’s certainly possible for online games to get creative with the player housing process.
If the Sims series were to come out with an MMO, the housing system would likely be of the utmost importance. I can envision massive towns with instanced neighborhoods where players could build their dream homes with the same sort of system we see in the main games of the Sims series: quick drag and drop tools and easy-to-navigate menus only restricted by imagination, lot size, and of course, how much money you have.
Another major draw for players of the Sims series seems to be character creation. In the Sims 4, players can click and drag nearly any part of their character’s body and adjust it to their heart’s content, a feature sorely missing from many modern MMOs. Those that do have such in-depth character creation, like Black Desert, are constantly praised for it. In the previous title, The Sims 3, the character creation section of the game went as far as to introduce a “color wheel” where players could tweak individual bits of their sims clothing and hair, changing the colors and patterns of virtually any part of the character. Even further than that, Sims all have aspirations and traits which would likely stand in place of where a traditional MMO would have classes and passive abilities.
Say your Sim dreams of becoming a famous musician and you give them the creative trait. A creative Sim learns creative skills much faster than a non-creative Sim and thus it would help you advance your character further in their aspiration. Each aspiration would also have objectives, and completing said objectives would earn you experience to gain more traits and simoleons (cash) to use as you please.
Other than building and extensive character creation, the Sims games have traditionally offered very little in terms of gameplay outside of the daily comings and goings of simulated life. In truth, this sort of experience would only have to make the minor changes for it to work in a massive online environment.
Let’s say the aspiring musician Sim we just talked about needs to get a job to pay for their home, some new clothes, or a night out at the bar with some online friends. A low-level Sim would only have so many options and thus the struggling artist becomes a pizza delivery Sim. Each day a player logs in they would have the option to deliver a few pizzas to randomly generated NPCs across the in-game world. Completing this daily quest would earn them a few simoleons experience points. Leveling certain skills would unlock different career paths which would, in turn, mean more money and experience.
Just like in the existing Sims games, players should be allowed to marry, have children, and do everything that a good life simulator should do. You could have the option of adopting or conceiving naturally, as Sims already do. And of course, since this would be a Sims MMO, players could also marry other players and choose to have families with them. This is not an unheard or impossible of concept, as games like Second Life have proven.
There should, of course, be more structured traditional quests and quest lines as well, but to keep with the original feel of the Sims, there would be no “main story”. The real “end goal” of the game would be fairly similar to the rest of the Sims series in that it’s really up to the player. Perhaps you’re focused on owning the biggest, fanciest house with the best furniture, or maybe you want to complete multiple different aspirations, or max out all available skills.
The point here is that the Sims series really can lend itself to an MMO experience if the developers were willing to put in the right amount of effort. I can envision a free-to-play model with plenty of paid cosmetic content since this is EA we’re talking about here. In truth, I don’t think this is that crazy of an idea. But what do you think? Should the Sims try out this MMO thing again, or would you prefer to see the continuation of a single-player experience? Let us know!