Sims 5 seemingly heading toward a Free-to-Play with Subscription model

The joke of paying real cash to buy a virtual outfit, a virtual furniture, or a virtual lot to play Sims may become frighteningly real.

A snippet from Maxis' career page caught the attention of many simmers when it involves Project Rene (aka Sims 5) looking for a Head of Marketplace & Monetization. The post describes that the newest entry to The Sims reveals a free-to-enter and paid content. It eludes to going away from the traditional buy-to-play model to a free-to-play model similar where players have to be connected online and subscribed to receive new content.

The page above is no longer available on the Maxis Careers page (yet reflected on a LinkedIn post too). 

The Sims 4 base game became free-to-play last October 18, 2022. And EA / Maxis introduced Game packs and Kits for The Sims 4. So the likely move for Project Rene (Sims 5) would be to streamline the content distribution by offering a free base game and then building it up through a subscription model or through delivery of the content using online menus. Think about a premium in-game currency and buying the content on a Sims store.

Of course, not everyone is happy. And the upcoming Sims 5 is still in its early development. So we still don't know well how this will play out. However, the subscription model may affect how CC creators and modders contribute to the longevity of the game. After all, modders do fix the game in some way. Folks still play Sims 2 and 3 because of custom content. But having a subscription model can mess up some game files and render the game unplayable. Sims 4 turns off custom scripts and mods after an update, but you can turn them back on. So having the game constantly synced can affect modders; these days logging in to a launcher to play your game in the library is second nature; but it's totally different though if you need to log in to The Sims 5 to play it.

Another glaring problem would be the player's constant, grueling, and expensive chase to own a COMPLETE Sims game. It has always been a challenge to complete your Sims experience. There's always a new expansion pack to buy. It's a given. But it's the tradition that players have accepted - you pay how you want to build your game. Although it would be a much better experience to own a complete game in the first place.

Stuff packs were introduced which were sparse in retail back in Sims 2 times. Folks bought the expansion packs, stuff packs, etcetera during sale. At least it's not a monthly expense. The irony here is that a subscription model would give players absolutely no incentive to stay with the base game. And does this new monetization extend to the content such as purchasing lots, or clothing? It will feel like a glorified mobile game.

Personally, I prefer the traditional buy to play model. The point is everyone would like to play a complete game. I don't want to spend my money that leaves me unsatisfied knowing that there's a list of things to buy to make my game 'complete'. My problem with The Sims 4 is that the new expansion feels like a shiny content that gets dull fast and then I revert back to the usual play. I say to myself, Wow this place is nice - but I realize there's a few things to do. The many type of packs make it also confusing. And I can only name a few expansion packs that were fun. Although I thought that they should have been included in the base game - which is the criticism of most players.

For example: in The Sims: Unleashed, pets were re-introduced in Sims 2: Pets and significantly improved the interactive gameplay of having pets. Then Sims 3: Pets introduced horse riding and the pets aspect in The Sims 3. To put in perspective, you'll need Sims 4 Cats and Dogs, My First Pets stuff, Cottage Living, and the upcoming Sims 4 Horse Ranch to compare to The Sims 3: Pets. Cottage Living and Horse Ranch use the theme of farm living. Why didn't they introduce horses in Cottage Living then?

Sims 5 will introduce multiplayer experience though. Which means that the session will either be hosted by the player (such as Don't Starve), or by a cloud server. But what happens when the servers are offline? We will have to see the actual gameplay on this to make a judgment.

It comes down to profit and revenue. One thing's for sure, this posting is creating a buzz. If Sims 5 becomes free-to-play, remember there is competition and other life-sims giving Sims 5 a run for its money.


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