The first contestant in the upcoming simulation showdown, Home Street, has already seen its global launch. Next, lets take a look at what one of the biggest video game franchises, from one of the biggest publishers in the world, has to offer. Electronic Arts is aiming for another major mobile release with The Sims Mobile, which will likely be competing for users with Home Street and Animal Crossing Mobile.
The Sims is one of the most iconic brands in gaming. After it’s debut on PC in 2001 it became a smash hit, becoming one of the few PC games at the time that was played by just about every demographic, regardless of age, sex, or attitude towards gaming. More than 16 years later, there are 4 core The Sims titles, countless expansions, a number of spin-offs, appearances on numerous gaming platforms, and a mobile title with over 100 million downloads on Google Play.
The Sims Mobile, like Home Street, has decided to start things off with a soft-launch phase. It is currently available in Spain and Brazil, with Brazillian users having access to the game since May. It is scheduled to have its global launch later this year.
The newest Sims game gives players a house and has them work to improve it while maintaining relationships with other Sims and creating a legacy that lets them pass things on to future Sim generations. One example offered by EA was a Sim becoming a judge after her father passes down his legacy as a lawyer. Unlike Home Street, and presumably Animal Crossing: Mobile, The Sims Mobile doesn’t limit you to just one character. While players start out with just one playable Sim, they can quickly unlock more slots (or if they’re impatient they can purchase them with premium currency), and create more Sims. Each of those Sims can have their own career, develop their own relationships and get married.
Things do feel a little odd early on when you have three Sims living together in a small home with a single bed. Even as players progress, having multiple Sims, their spouses and children in a single home will make space a constant issue. This can lead to some homes that have a very space-conscious design, with a lot of beds being crammed into small rooms.
The Sims Mobile offers impressive depth as far as character customization goes. In many cases there are over a dozen options for facial features like the eyes. That goes along with jewelry options, accessories, clothing, body shape and more. Home decoration is not nearly as deep in comparison. While there are a number of options for most of the game’s furniture types, selection can be rather sparse for certain categories. Moreover, much of the furniture will require players to level up to unlock, leaving players without a great selection early on. What the game does offer right from the start is a lot of furniture that players can buy or unlock with premium currency.
The core gameplay in The Sims Mobile is relatively simple. Most activities that a Sim is involved in are events that focus to selecting actions for you to perform in order to fill up a progress bar. If you have chosen the fashion career for your Sim, a work event will involve selecting things like “sew inseams”, at the cost of two energy points in exchange for some progress until the progress bar is filled, or the event timer runs out. This same mechanic is used for social, family, work, and hobby related activities.
The key part of that description is the world energy. The Sims Mobile uses an energy/stamina system for many of the game’s actions. That means what while you could easily finish some events within a few minutes, you will likely run out of energy after each event. Energy regenerates over time, can be restored with a rare/premium item (cupcakes), or by sleeping, bathing, showering, or using the toilet. Each of your home’s energy restoring facilities has a cooldown, so you can not simply use the shower over and over to fully refill your energy.
Should the energy system dampen expectations for the game? Absolutely. Is it enough to turn people away from The Sims branding? Unlikely. The combination of The Sims brand, impressive character customization options, and ability to focus on a character’s life will almost certainly help The Sims Mobile find an audience. To be determined is how it will impact the battle between The Sims Mobile, Home Street and Animal Crossing: Mobile.
Look for a review of The Sims mobile when the game has its global launch. As of right now, there is no official release date for The Sims Mobile beyond sometime in 2017. Those of you in Spain and Brazil can get the game on Google Play right now.