Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gaming: Why I won't be buying The Sims 4

Almost 15 years ago, while flipping through a "Games" magazine, I came across an interesting article about Will Wright and a new game he was developing called "The Sims".  What few pictures accompanying the article made it look cute, the description of Maxis' ideas for development sounded promising (it's your SimCity inhabitants, but up close!!), and I thought that I had finally found the game for me.  I waited eagerly for its release.

How little did I know it would become a decades-old hobby.

I now have a strange relationship with The Sims franchise.  On the one hand, I simply must buy all the expansion packs, because each one carries a new bit of functionality that wasn't present before, such as pets or college life, and I used to buy all the "stuff" packs because one can never have enough kitchen appliances.  Since The Sims 3 came out, however, I do not buy all the "stuff" packs... who could?  The content released on The Sims 3 website alone would guarantee I would be broke every single payday, not to mention the releases on disk.

They disguise the cost by using "points" instead of currency, but it's not hard to figure out that if 2000 points costs $20, then a themed bedroom set priced at 1,750 points costs you $17.50.  We're not stupid.

So now I sigh at the content I can't have, and then grumble when I need to find a book to read while my game loads.  I recently took out all the content I *did* own that I never used, and it did not speed up the load time one bit.  What's more, since the addition of The Sims 3: Pets expansion, my game has started locking up (sort of... the animations for water and tree movement still happen, but I can't click anything and my Sim stops moving) UNLESS I Alt-Tab out of the game.  About five seconds later, I hear it resume, go back in, and it locks up again, to be repeated ad nauseum.  I looked up and installed a new graphics driver, no fixy.  The last time this happened, I discovered that at a certain intersection in the town, very very far from my sim's house, there was a spawning problem with the NPC's cars near one of the places of business, and the "traffic jam" was freezing up the entire game.  I had to go in to the City editor to fix it myself, but this time, I really don't want to go through the entire town, looking for sloppy sidewalk placement, one inch at a time, because that's all the farther it will let me go before re-locking up.

EA has started shirking on customer support and quality control, and gotten greedy with several micro-transaction schemes (Dragon Age on Facebook?  REALLY?  And you want us to pay real cash for something we can gain by being patient and waiting?  Get real.).

So, basically, I will not be buying The Sims 4... and it will be coming soon.  You can tell when they're about to jump ship to a new version, because the "stuff" and expansion packs start getting unwieldy after a while, and people like me with gaming performance machines start having trouble.  They just bloat it out, until it's about to reach critical mass, and then they start over again with a stripped-bare base game that does nothing but let you watch your sim eat and sleep and sit on the toilet.  And the expansions start all over again.  I can see it now:  "Oooh, look... an expansion pack that lets you add the "Personal Trainer" career and allows neighbors to visit each other!  Neato!"

Gimme a break.

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