The Sims franchise reacted to increasing pressure from not only the world state at large but also its vehemently vocal fanbase this week in all facets of its industry. From annoying bugs in Sims Mobile, to fresh event models in Sims Freeplay, and finally the revamping of Sim skintones in Sims 4, the franchise seems to be burning the midnight oil to appease its players.
The Sims FreePlay
Sims FreePlay, in particular, responded to player desires by including two fresh features to keep their builders building and their players playing. On August 10th, FreePlay underwent a massive update which brought a deluge of new features to the game. The first of these was L-shaped rooms. Gone are the days when Sims FreePlay builders created grand shapes out of the standard rectangular rooms. After undergoing a pricey quest, Simmers gain the ability to make rectangular rooms into L-shaped rooms. Why is this significant? It allows builders to better demarcate living areas in their builds without having to physically build another room. An L-shaped room could be used as a living room in one stem and a dining room in the next, an arrangement common in real life. But this was not all that FreePlay announced this week. The Firemonkeys team presented an uncommonly united front as they announced the giant "School's Out" update, over a month's worth of events in which players can participate to win school-themed prizes: steel water fountains, bleachers, goal posts, cafeteria serving stations, and far more. The grand prize for the live event, which pops in player devices September 3rd and runs for ten days, is a fully furnished school building.
But not even this is the end of the FreePlay story. Responding to player frustrations over the immensely unpopular Sim Chase, FreePlay added a new game facet to their mobile franchise: Influence Island. A quirky, refreshing take on "Survivor" style game shows, Influence Island plunks player Sims onto a sun-soaked, sandy island populated not only with coconut trees but also celebrity Sims. The challenge encourages player Sims to wield their powers of persuasion to lure these celebrity Sims -- think Bella Goth, Izzy Fabulous, and Santa -- to their side through lying, cheating, swindling, flirting, and all kinds of questionable cajoling. Winning over celebs earns the player Sim network tokens, a currency used in the gift shop to spin for prizes. After claiming all of the "common" prizes, players can then spin for "rare" prizes, all of which are, again, school themed. Of course, players will need to contend with an antagonist on Influence Island, who plots to influence the celebrity Sims against the hero Sim. Players must guess, gamble, and take plenty of well-measured risks in order to outwit the rival Sim at his own game.
More Sims FreePlay news included the return of Sim Chase. There are two new ones this month and a rerun of a third. Sim Chase #18 populates in-game August 21st and is aptly named "Sports Day Stoush." The second SimChase of the month is called "School Scuffles," beginning September 15th. The rewards for both of these chases will be school-themed. At the end of the month, on September 26th, players will contend with Sim Chase #4, Teen Retreat.
Freeplayers may also look forward to a new Maternity pack, an award for completing a maternity quest between August 30th and September 7th. Players can also look for the beloved "Inner Child's Play Quest" on August 31st, the Mean Curls hobby event on September 9th, and the Urban Furniture hobby event September 23rd alongside the Holiday High-Rise live event, also on September 23rd. Check out Simmer's Digest online for detailed walkthroughs of all these events in the coming weeks.
The Sims Mobile
Sims Mobile had a moderately active week as Simmers wound down their Sweet Treats efforts and stuffed their new garages with tools, beanbags, and foosball tables, all while speculating about possible car updates in the future. The last update did leave a few players reeling; alongside the stunning camera and fourth floor changes came a host of new bugs, the most needling of which was the disappearance of Eco Retreat salvaged wood walls. Players sent their Sims to their humble eco paradises only to find their walls bare and white. To appease players, Firemonkeys compensated them with extra simoleons on August 12th.
The Sims Mobile Gamechangers dropped a smattering of information to round out the Mobile updates for the month, introducing two new purchasable packs and the final Wumples event for August. The first pack, populating in-game on August 13th and offered for $6.99, will include a caged bunker light, a Lively Linen closet, Shadowboxed tools, a Monumental canyon poster, Garage essential shelving, 6,000 simoleons, and a squat bookshelf hilariously called "that's a Lotta-man Books." Predictably, the Sims Mobile team trotted out another pack meant only for female Sims-- the Casa de Comfy pack, outfitted with a prim and plush bathrobe, sleepytime pajamas, sleepytime slippers,a branded and brave sweater, and a two-tone crew neck sweater alongside 9,000 simoleons. This pack triggers on August 24thand will cost $8.99 USD.
Wumples leaps back into action on August 23rd. In exchange for a five foot long to-do list, Wumples awards the player this time with a unicorn piggy bank, a horse-like plushie, and ten fashion gems.
The Sims 4
But there was perhaps no greater news this week than that which occurred in Sims 4 circles. There is no doubt that we all live in tumultuous times. In light of horrific police brutality, the silencing of protestors, and the on-going systemic oppression faced by people of color worldwide, the need for racial justice, the cry for change, has never been more clear, never been more loud. Communities everywhere know that humanity stands on the cusp of monumental change, the arc of our history bending toward justice, and that change should involve every corner of our lives: even our video games. August 11th, SimGuruLindsay took to Twitter to address what hundreds of players have loudly advocated for for years: improved skin tones.
For a long time, darker skin tones in the Sims 4 were strangely blotchy, ashen, with undertones closer to blue or purple than the rich reds and yellows of actual people of color. In a game which has long touted its reputation as a game of equality, of inclusion, and life-simulation, this was a glaring oversight. Gamers took up the cause with a fiery new vigor: they interrupted Twitch streams, hijacked Twitter announcements, and advocated loudly on all social media platforms. Of course, talented modders like the indefatigable Xmiramira have not only spoken up about this oversight but also remedied it with widely-used skin mods. But now, with the blindingly stark light of racial injustice thrown on every facet of our lives, the Sims can no longer look the other way.
SimGuruLyndsay promised that they have heard the concerns of their player base. The Sims 4 team, after conferring closely with experts and stakeholders, has pledged to correct the skin tones in an upcoming fall patch.
Change will come, listeners, but only if you reach for it.
Until next time, stay safe, stay sane, and never stay silent. And as always, happy Simming.