Every sequel faces a challenge of living up to whatever came before it. The Sims 4 struggles with this more than most video games because the series has such a distinctive and successful history.
The shadow that The Sims 4 lives under came up in an unexpectedly candid way yesterday when I was speaking to Rachel Franklin, an executive producer on the game. We were talking about the new stuff that the game’s getting over the next few months. Most of these additions—swimming pools, ghost Sims, new careers—seem to address specific complaints that fans have had about where they find the new game lacking. Hearing Franklin describe the new ways that, say, ghosts will function in The Sims 4, I kept thinking back to the main criticisms I’ve seen bubble up online before the game had even been released. Given the intensity with which many fans have aired their grievances, it’s tempting to see anything that EA now does with The Sims 4 as a defensive, or reactive, gesture.
Towards the end of our conversation, I asked Franklin if the developer’s plans for future Sims 4 updates and expansions had shifted at all in response to the game’s…complicated reception. Her response was: yes and no.
“We always had a plan to have some paid and some free content,” Franklin said. “For these next three months, these will all be free content updates. So that’s always been our approach.”
“That said, we absolutely listen to our players,” she continued. “And we want feedback from our players, and respect what they’re saying. We try to incorporate that as quickly [as possible] and to the best of our abilities.”