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#StopEAAbuse — The Movement Calling for Change in The Sims

Mason Sylvia

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It goes without saying that controversies in the gaming industry are commonplace and expected, with developers and AAA companies looking to pump out the next top IP to make waves, change the game, raise the bar, and maximize revenue while minimizing cost and resources. It should come as no surprise that Electronic Arts (EA) is once again under the spotlight, as the company has been at the front of the firing squad for many large-scale and embarrassing controversies and scandals in the past, and is regarded by many in the gaming community alongside Activision for being one of the worst companies in the industry. From their highly controversial online pass in 2013, to removing low-scored reviews from their games on the iTunes Store in 2014, to defending predatory and exploitative microtransactions and loot boxes in recent titles, EA is no stranger to backlash and harsh criticism, and now they’re facing it from The Sims community in quite a large capacity.

For the past couple of days, a trending hashtag on Twitter is #StopEAAbuse and it comes from a good chunk of The Sims community, calling for change in their beloved life-simulation franchise. Thousands of tweets have been posted since the movement began and it zeroes in on the topic of quality decline in The Sims franchise, at the hands of EA. It’s a movement created to gather fans and Sims players together and call for change in the iconic life-simulation series, noting specifically the cost of admission and all of the available content versus the quality of the game, unfixed bugs and issues spanning the recent installment’s fifth anniversary, and the decision to continue to develop and release DLC and expansions while ignoring the issues that have been present for years. To properly understand the point of the movement, we’d have to dive into a little bit of history regarding The Sims.

The Sims was originally created in 1991 when game designer Will Wright lost his home in the Oakland firestorm and was inspired to create a virtual doll house while rebuilding his life. Replacing his home and possessions inspired him to adapt the idea into a game, but when he brought the ideas to the board of directors at Maxis, they were skeptical and provided minimal support and financing for the project. In 1997, when Electronic Arts bought Maxis, their directors had more faith given that SimCity was a great success and saw potential in Wright’s idea. The Sims launched at the end of January 2000 and snowballed into one of the most iconic and best-selling game franchises of all time, selling nearly 200 million copies worldwide.

The Sims (2000)

Over time, The Sims would go onto receive endless support and additions from Maxis in the form of expansion packs, which expanded even further with the second and third generations of the game, where The Sims 3 in 2009 introduced an open-world, Create-a-World tools, and “stuff packs,” which were essentially smaller expansion packs based on collaborations with celebrities or brands to add more specific clothing or in-game items. It was also a large step forward for the modding community compared to The Sims 2 and the creation and use of custom content spiked and continued to do so with The Sims 4, but for more negative reasons than positive.

A recurring issue with The Sims is that usually, when a sequel is developed and released, it builds upon its predecessor and moves forward in terms of quality and value. Unfortunately, in this franchise, it’s backward; subsequent iterations of the game would end up launching a bare-bones base game and reuse expansion packs from the previous generations, instead of including that content at launch and adding different material, content, and themes. When The Sims 4 launched in 2014, it introduced a lot of new gameplay mechanics, revitalized core features, and in some ways revolutionized the franchise. However, it was a very bare base game that lacked even the most basic of inclusions from previous titles, like swimming pools and the toddler life stage, which sparked a lot of controversy from its vocal community. It was also plagued with bugs and some issues both game-breaking and not, most of which still have not been fixed or addressed five years later. The crux of the issue is that a lot of players expect every iteration of The Sims to include content from the predecessor and build upon that, but that’s never been the case with The Sims, and it’s also where a lot of fans and players take the greatest offense. For example, The Sims has had an expansion pack for pets and animals in every single generation, but never once actually launched with them; something that would be considered by many to be a commonplace feature and inclusion has a history of being reserved for paid DLC down the line.

#StopEAAbuse takes aim at Electronic Arts and shifts the blame from the development team at The Sims Studio to its parent company, as the franchise is currently pumping out more expansions and paid content and have barely acknowledged or fixed issues that players have been reporting and complaining about for the past five years. While some of them are issues that are most likely baked into the game’s coding and can’t be changed due to the game’s development and poor optimization, a lot of the issues are legitimate, and patches/updates do not come frequently enough. Most of the time, patches and updates are only released when gearing up for a new expansion pack of some sort, or as a hotfix after one has been released, and players are left waiting for another paid content release update to fix an issue introduced with the last paid DLC. It’s a solid movement with a lot of merit and considering that The Sims is not an inexpensive series to involve oneself in, members of The Sims community deserve to have their voices heard.

The Sims 4: Island Living

To put it into perspective, we’d have to address all of the post-launch content of The Sims 4 and for the sake of an accurate analysis, use their launch prices and forego any current sales or promotions. When The Sims 4 launched in 2014, it was priced at USD $59.99 for the limited edition and $69.99 for the deluxe edition. As it currently stands, there are seven expansion packs ($39.99 each), eight game packs ($19.99 each) and a whopping fifteen stuff packs ($9.99 each), which adds up to a current count of thirty pieces of post-release DLC for the game. With that being said, if you were to purchase the top-tier version of The Sims 4 and all of its respective post-launch content, you’re looking at a total cost of $659.69 before any applicable taxes, and that is nothing to sneeze at. We’re talking about nearly $700 for all of the content and features that the game offers and still being plagued with bugs and issues for five years after launch and without any long-term resolution in sight.

Naturally, people are pretty upset and pretty vocal and the #StopEAAbuse movement is bringing attention right to that.

https://twitter.com/nando_aze/status/1178671268008206341?s=20

Naturally, there have been some people, including influencers enrolled in the EA Game Changers program, that have responded in opposition of the movement, but members of The Sims community are not having any of it.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re sitting on, the #StopEAAbuse movement is here and it’s calling for a fair change. The Sims is an iconic, historical franchise that deserves respect and quality content, and at the end of the day, when the full cost of admission for a product is $700 but it’s still having issues five years down the line, an acknowledgement at the very least, is long overdue.

Video game enthusiast, James Bond aficionado, Tomb Raider expert, and lover of Beefeater gin. I'm a creature of habit and I'm either found buried in a book or working through my video game backlog when I'm not working my day job.

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