This past week, Sims 4 fans were given the chance to take their Sims to a music festival, starring real-life musicians. Sims Sessions presented the stars, including Bebe Rexha, in Sim form and singing in the games’ own language, Simlish. The free update, and EA’s inclusion of real-life stars, prompts questions about where the future of music events could be within video games, as well as the future of the Sims franchise itself.
Immediately upon entering the festival space, set in base game Magnolia Blossom Park, the scale is underwhelming, to say the least. Less Glastonbury and more local village fête, three tents and a couple of stalls surround a simple wooden performance stand, around which less than twenty NPC Sims meander.
I went to the @TheSims in-game Sims Sessions festival and it was so cool! I really liked that idea and I hope they do more of them, I really miss real concerts and it was fun going to one in the Sims :') pic.twitter.com/r97kq6cJmK— Laura (@symmetryoriginn) July 7, 2021
The surprising inclusion of English words on in-game items, when items usually only use Simlish, meant the items did not fit seamlessly with the rest of the game
It was also a one-time event with no incentives to revisit the same performances. The surprising inclusion of English words on in-game items, when items usually only use Simlish, meant the items did not fit seamlessly with the rest of the game.
The Sims franchise has been stagnant for some time, having been released in 2014, with no sign of a release of Sims 5 yet. The stalling of the series is perhaps indicative of a delay in the technological development of life simulation games.
More recent additions to the genre, such as the long-awaited release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, do not advance much on the general concept. However, New Horizons benefitted from interactive elements such as playing with friends, which the Sims franchise does not offer in-game.
The addition of the music festival and the decision to make it available for a short period, aligning with the festival season, reflects Animal Crossing’s alignment with real-life timelines and events. This move demonstrates the genre’s incorporation of seasonal events and timelines to immerse their audience and increase replay-ability.
The community elements of the Sims games are perhaps the strongest driving force of its continued success. Fans dedicate time to create their game assets, often for free, to fit with more modern trends and popular styles which are not included in additional Sims packs.
These additions feel more like a re-skinning of the already available game assets, rather than advancements to gameplay
The community expands throughout YouTube and Twitch spheres, often showing as one of the most prominent games played within the gaming sector of each platform. Players have the option to approach the game as an architect, or interior designer, to fully immerse themselves in the lives of their Sims.
Despite the series continuing to release expansion packs (that add new furniture or clothing), Sims 4 lacks advancement in the gameplay. Packs are widely considered expensive. Sims 4: Snowy Escape, which added the ability to get involved with snow sports, costs £34.99, and the latest releases of ‘kits’ (which add less than twenty-five clothing items) cost £4.99. These additions feel more like a re-skinning of the already available game assets, rather than advancements to gameplay.
The move towards including events (and ones with real-life celebrities), could signal a new trend in life simulation games, which could incorporate VR to truly immerse fans. During the pandemic, the potential for home events has been experimented with, from movie releases to live theatre performances.
We have yet to see whether this will continue post-pandemic or whether fans are eager to step into the ‘real world’ again. Sims Sessions certainly seems like a minor experiment into the reception of these events within the games. By offering the festival as part of the base game, EA has given all Sims fans, regardless of their additional purchases, a chance to enjoy the event. Yet the potential for added costs for such events is certainly a possibility.
As a staple of my childhood, I will continue to revisit the Sims series and eagerly anticipate additional features as the game technology develops. This Sims Sessions season was somewhat disappointing, but the potential it presents for future projects is intriguing.
In-article video courtesy of @Elliandra via youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.
In-article image 1 courtesy of @symmetryoriginn via twitter.com. No changes were made to this image.
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