The Sims developer Maxis announced “Project Rene,” the next main installment in the franchise. It should be noted that Maxis has never publicly said The Sims 5, but everyone basically knows that’s exactly what this is, even if it moves away from being a numbered sequel. Only sparse details about The Sims 5 have been publicly stated, such as the inclusion of solo, co-op, and cross-play; improved room customization, as well as more furniture options; a multiplayer build-and-buy mode, letting players customize a building at the same time; and so on.
Since this announcement, gameplay photos of The Sims 5 have leaked online, alpha playtests have gone out, and the game has even been pirated. It ultimately remains to be seen how much The Sims 5 differs from the last game, which is perhaps one of the biggest things fans are looking at, and how it breaks new ground for the franchise. If not in content, it’s worth highlighting how The Sims 5 has already broken one tradition.
Some things in the industry follow noticeable patterns, whether this is in free game releases on PS Plus, marketing campaigns and showcase appearances, or even in news/release cycles. It’s not always easy to pinpoint, but development typically has a certain cadence in a studio (for better or worse, at times). Maxis is one of those where the mainline games of The Sims franchise fit into a neat little bubble: the original Sims came out in 2000, The Sims 2 came out in 2004, The Sims 3 came out in 2009, and The Sims 4 came out in 2014. Looking at these entries in the franchise, it’s clear that there’s an every 4-5 year pattern among them.
Of course, Maxis’ continued work, DLC, and updates on The Sims 4 have essentially all but ended this tradition. The Sims 4 came out basically 8 years ago, not 4-5, and The Sims 5 was not effectively announced until this year. This means that it probably won’t release until some next year, if not the next, putting The Sims 5 nearly, if not longer than, a decade away from The Sims 4. However, depending on the direction The Sims 5 takes, this could be a double-edged sword.
The good thing is such a pattern and tradition are essential. It’s not like it takes longer is worse for the game; in fact, it’s probably good so that Maxis can really improve on the base format, expand the franchise, and make an entry as definitive as The Sims 4. That’s a high bar to reach, and not being restricted to any particular release cadence allows for more innovation, iteration, and expansion. On the other hand, though, it creates a certain divide between what is perhaps a reality for the studio and fan expectations. The Sims 4 has released a plethora of content over the years, and if The Sims 5 doesn’t match that beat-for-beat, it’s going to upset fans. Especially if it essentially amounts to them buying similar content all over again.