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Electronic Arts unveiled a future version of The Sims, dubbed Project Rene, with advances in the life simulation franchise. It also unveiled a partnership with Overwolf to enable user-generated content in The Sims 4, which is going free to play today.
In an online presentation dubbed Behind The Sims Summit, EA and its Maxis division made the announcements for the 22-year-old franchise, which has had more than 50 million players to date. EA’s Lyndsey Pearson said during the summit that the new version, presumably The Sims 5 (but EA didn’t name it), is a couple of years away or more.
The changes, along with other updates to existing games for The Sims, represent a big investment by Electronic Arts in the future of the franchise.
EA showed how players can contribute their UGC to the CurseForge site for The Sims. That store will be the official place where players can get UGC for experimentation, self-discovery and imaginative expression. Pearson and Overwolf CEO Uri Marchand will speak at our GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 event in a session moderated by IGN senior editor Kat Bailey on October 25. (The Dean50 code will get 50% off tickets here.) Actress and author Phoebe Robinson hosted the Behind The Sims Summit.
“As players, creators and storytellers you make the Sims,” Pearson said. “Every day, we’re inspired by the incredible ways you express yourselves from the billions of hours played, breathtaking houses built, videos created and unique stories shared. And as we watch the vast content coming from this amazing community, we’re astonished by the incredible creativity. And we are truly proud to be part of this team delivering on these games for you.”
The next generation of The Sims in development
Maxis gave fans a glimpse of the very early stages of the next generation The Sims game and creative platform, with a working title of Project Rene. The title was chosen to be reminiscent of words like renewal, renaissance and rebirth to represent the developer’s renewed commitment.
The game will stay true to what The Sims has always been while pushing to evolve how those Sims think and behave. It will reimagine The Sims with even more ways to play, tools to encourage creativity and the ability to tell meaningful stories. With Project Rene, players will have the choice to play solo or collaborate with others and will have the ability to play their game across supported devices.
Pearson said she started working on The Sims as a game tester 20 years ago and she now gets to lead the franchise into the years ahead.
“We’re building the next generation Sims game and creative platform reimagining the Sims you know and love with new ways to play. This is the future of The Sims built on a foundation of charming Sims, powerful tools and meaningful stories,” Pearson said. “This future requires us to stay true to what The Sims has always been while pushing to evolve how those Sims think and behave.”
It will be about collaboration. EA is sharing it early because it wants fans to be a part of the development journey. It has some new creative tools where it’s easy to change the patterns, colors, and shapes for something like a piece of furniture. It lets you decorate your home in your own style quickly.
“With Project Rene, we want to make it easier to work together and share. You can choose to play or create by yourself, or with your close friends, it’s entirely your choice,” Pearson said. “No matter who you may want to play with, we want you to be able to play wherever you want.”
Fans can sign up at TheSims.com to follow the news.
The Sims 4 free base game now available
Beginning today, The Sims 4 base game will be available to all new players to download for free on PC via EA app or Origin, Mac via Origin, Steam, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One systems.
Phil Ring, executive producer of The Sims, said at the summit that The Sims 4 is going free to play today and that EA is working on new content for two expansion packs in the future.
The development team at Maxis also emphasized its dedication to develop new and meaningful The Sims 4 experiences for the foreseeable future. Players can expect more packs, kits, free updates and Sims Delivery Express drops. The studio offered a glimpse at concept designs for two future expansion packs coming out next year – and shared that infants will be arriving in early 2023.
As a thank you to players for their support, celebration rewards are available across The Sims 4, The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Mobile including a variety of tattoos to adorn your Sims and a special Plumbob Ceiling Fan – all free, and already available in the games.
Working with creators via CurseForge
The studio announced a new destination for The Sims 4 players to download mods and UGC through a new collaboration with Overwolf, operators of CurseForge, a mod manager and discovery platform for user-generated content.
“For years, the Sims community has been expanded by modders and custom content creators, and today we’re taking a big step forward with The Sims in recognizing and celebrating their contributions,” Pearson said. “I’m excited to announce that for the first time in our history, we’ll be working with a new destination for The Sims 4 players to download trusted mods and custom content. This will come to life through our new partnership with Overwolf, an all-in-one platform for end game creators to build a new, safe, curated space for The Sims four mods and custom content.”
For years, The Sims 4 community has been expanded by modders and custom content creators, and today marks a big step forward in recognizing and celebrating their contributions. But the content for the time being is all free. Players can’t yet sell their items for The Sims for money.
“With this new partnership, we’re empowering creators to give to the community by introducing a destination to host their incredible creations and allow even more players to download their content for The Sims 4,” Pearson said. “The Overwolf team has already begun to invite a pilot group of creators called The Mod Squad to create in-game mods and custom content and we encourage you to follow us across our official channels for the latest news and developments.”
Modders and content creators have been creating content for The Sims for years, but they haven’t had a single location to go to. So they have had to set up their own individual stores for content. Those stores will still exist, but CurseForge will be the official location for mods and UGC. Marchand noted that Overwolf’s position isn’t exclusive and it doesn’t want to alienate the existing mod ecosystem.
More information about the program and its launch will be available later this year.
The Sims has been one of the most-modded franchises in gaming history, said Uri Marchand, CEO of Overwolf, in an interview with GamesBeat. EA has been talking to Overwolf for a long time.
“EA has finally decided to make the step and bring it home and make it official,” Marchand said. “EA has done a lot of work in respecting creators and providing creator tools and then doing all sorts of integrations into the game that allow you to enjoy both mods and custom content.”
While it’s an early step, Marchand sees it as a paradigm shift. To date, game franchises have often had an arms-length relationship with fan content. Parents have been concerned about kids downloading inappropriate content from unknown websites with paywall schemes that might be shady. It’s kind of a Wild West situation.
This is a big step forward in making it a lot easier to download material from a trusted and curated website, Marchand said.
“For creators, we want to provide more tools,” Marchand said. “We’re not going to take away from existing monetization methods that are consistent with Maxis’ terms and conditions.”
Over time, Overwolf hopes to sell goods on CurseForge, with EA’s approval. Usually, Overwolf takes a 30% cut on revenue generated through mods and customizations on CurseForge. It’s also possible to subscribe to the platform.
As for selling mods, “this may or may not change in the future,” Marchand said. “We certainly envision a future in which this becomes a possibility. But right now, this is the first step of a very long-term relationship. And in this first step, we figured that it makes sense to first crawl before we start running.”
Updates for The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Mobile
Lastly, new updates were unveiled for The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Mobile.
As part of the ongoing effort to improve the representation of all players, The Sims FreePlay will add updated appearances of Sim’s faces for preteen, teenage, adult and elderly life stages. This visual upgrade includes all hairstyles, earrings and glasses being shared across all genders, and will be permanently available in-game for free starting today.
“Maxis invented the life simulation genre and has galvanized an entire generation of gamers with its heartfelt thought-provoking and sometimes out-there experiences. Any team would be proud to be where we are today. But we’re not content to sit still,” said Cat Mallet, vice president of Maxis at EA, during the summit. “We are constantly challenging ourselves to innovate and find new ways for players to live life without boundaries. The Sims has always been a game about choice. And we give players the tools to discover new things about themselves and feel the power of self-expression. We are all in on The Sims and we’ll be starting this journey with you at many things we have in progress.”
In addition, the annual “Christmas in the Heir” seasonal quest will be coming to the game in December with a new special narrative, and the ability to build and live in a luxury superyacht will be introduced in early 2023. I thought those looked pretty cool. Who wouldn’t want to pretend to live on a superyacht?
The Sims Mobile will launch balconies, a new build/buy addition, during the holidays this year. Developed for Simmers to express themselves through imaginative storytelling, the feature offers players an opportunity to recreate dream builds with balconies and the option to customize them through various barrier styles.
I thought Robinson was pretty funny. She said she wished dating in real life was like The Sims.
“If I don’t like any of my options, I can literally just make the perfect man,” she joked. “And if I decide that I like him and want to control him for the rest of my life. That’s not toxic. That’s good gameplay.”