The Sims burst onto the gaming scene in early 2000. It brought with it a surprising amount of success, and arguably gave rise to the simulation genre. Though limited in graphics and story, for its time it was a phenomenon. When EA published the second game in 2004, people were instantly drawing comparisons. Apart from the obvious improvement in graphics, the story and mechanics were also much better.
With an added colour wheel, life aspirations and many more exciting additions, The Sims 2 brought with it all the customisation that the first game lacked. This tickled the fancy of many players who had dreamed of being free to create and perhaps even destroy the lives of their Sims in whatever ways they imagined. In the following years, with the release of The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, however, players have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress on the customisation front.
As well as overpriced expansion packs and consistently horrible load times, this lack of player freedom could be the straw to break the camel’s back. The only reason millions of Sims players have stuck with the title is because a comparable title doesn’t exist. Not yet, anyway.
The Sims Rival
In 2019, the development of an indie life simulator was unveiled and Sims players everywhere vowed that they would never go back to The Sims again. Paralives, a PC game developed by Alex Massé boasts everything The Sims players have been missing and wanting for years. Custom lot sizes, flexible furniture customisation, curving walls, split level rooms. You name whatever The Sims 4 lacks and Massé seems to include it in this dreamy looking title.
“Created by and for the player”, Massé has encouraged player input through his Twitter and the Paralives Discord server, where anyone can have their say on what they’d like to see in the game. Along with creating a Simmer’s perfect building tools, Paralives strives to bring just as much freedom to player style. This means the simulated residents of the world have immersive careers, relationships, and communities. Pets, transport, and seasons are just a few other aspects that bring this world to life.
And sure, many players can point out that a lot of these features are already in The Sims 4. But a good portion of this similar gameplay is only accessible through expensive expansion packs, whereas Paralives promises this content will be available in the base game.
Too Good to Be True?
With no release date announced, potential players are still riding the hype train with every new feature teased. With indie titles there is always the worry that development will take so long that players will lose interest. Massé has done well to be active on his Twitter, though, answering questions and even taking suggestions from eager players. This is a great sign that he is dedicated to getting this game out as soon as possible.
As well as frequent interaction, gameplay has been released onto the Paralives Youtube channel, proving that a lot of the building mechanics are truly underway, and the wild promises made are actually being fulfilled.
What This Means for The Sims & EA
It is always a good thing for games like The Sims to have competition. With the promise that many players will switch titles to fulfill their simulation game desires, EA must now pay close attention to their player base’s wants, or else risk losing a big portion of them to an indie game. Motivated by the competition, we could see The Sims improved to become bigger and better than ever before. This is something EA desperately needs after announcing that The Sims 5 will have an online component. This caused outrage amongst players, since many admire the offline quality.
To stay at the top, EA has to revise their decisions and react accordingly to player opinion. Paralives has been the motivating force to get The Sims back up to the standard many players want. It’s evident that the announcement of this game has pushed EA. Sims players have been invited recently to partake in surveys about The Sims 4. Ranging from opinions about existing gameplay to future expansion pack content.
EA would probably say this was an innovation they thought up. However, these surveys only started popping up after the popularity boost of Paralives. It’s hard to see how these two things aren’t correlated and this is a great sign. Both The Sims and Paralives are starting to feed off each other and motivate improvement. Only time will tell which out of the two will reign as King of Life Simulators.
More Info About Paralives
Paralives will be available on Steam for PC and Mac, and can be added to your wishlist now. It will not be a free-to-play game, however, Massé promises free regular updates and patches. While the specs needed for playing are not yet available, Massé has said that he wants to make the game available for laptop players. Expect this game to at the very least have options to lower graphics. This will ensure a smooth player experience on less powerful computers. To keep updated on the game follow Alex Massé on Twitter, and if you’d like to support the development of this game, he does have a running Patreon.
If leisure is the mother of philosophy then I consider literature, film, and games as providers of lessons as worthy as Sokrates’.