I can't wait for The Sims 4. I'm ridiculously excited. But it's not for the reason you think. It isn't about the chance to play a prettier, fancier version of The Sims. It means I'll finally be able to afford those The Sims 3 expansion packs I've been eying up.
See, we The Sims fans are jaded folks. We know that the base version of The Sims, The Sims 2, The Sims 3, or soon The Sims 4 will never be enough. It's a shell of a game. The experience is only fully fleshed out when the expansion packs are factored into the equation. While I was willing to jump on practically every wagon added to the original Sims bandwagon, I got smart with subsequent releases, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
Simply put, the best time to get into an installment of The Sims is when its successor has reared its money-grubbing head. That's when you can strike and perhaps get all the expansions you want for the same price you paid for the base game. Because otherwise, you're just a chump. No sane person should ever spend over $15 for a The Sims expansion. Okay, maybe $20 is okay, if it's exceptionally good.
The fact is, The Sims is a series where EA wants players to spend three and four times as much on expansions and stuff packs than they do for the original game. No other series could get away with such blatant disregard for the audience, but somehow those playing The Sims series get used to this kind of behavior. They accept it, but they don't have to. If you're willing to be patient and think, you can end up with a full game, one that includes every expansion you want, for a fraction of the price.
Take The Sims 2 for example. I bought it at launch because I was dazzled by The Sims. However, when it came to expansions, I only bought University and Apartment Life. I borrowed Seasons from a friend. I made do with what I had until The Sims 3 came out in 2009. Then, fortune smiled upon me. I was at a Goodwill store a few months after the third installment came out and saw a copy of The Sims 2 and every one of its expansions. All of them had the registration keys and were priced at $3.99 each, and I happily scooped up the ones I didn't have.
With The Sims 3, I was pretty fortunate as well. I got the base game from a Goodwill with the code for a third of the price shortly after its June launch, and then ended up getting Late Night and High End Loft Stuff from the Humble Origin bundle earlier this year. But, despite getting a fraction of the base game and its extras, I still found myself succumbing to The Sims curse. As nice as the base game, Late Night, and High End Loft Stuff are, they aren’t enough. The game doesn't feel complete, especially since I know about all the expansions that I don't own. I want a university, magical creatures, extra vacation spots, and pets. My The Sims 3 characters' lives won't be complete without them.
And, because The Sims games are so materialistic, people will fall into the trap and occasionally cave into the demand for new expansions. That's why EA still makes new installments in the series. Even though there is custom content created by other gamers, some of these free items require certain expansion packs to work within the game. So even people who think they can rely on the freebies can't.
But it isn't a problem for us Sims fans anymore. We have a timeline. Those of us with The Sims 3 only have to hold out a little bit longer before we can start enjoying a full experience for a fraction of the price. A year from now, I know I'll be enjoying World Adventures, Generations, Pets, Seasons, Supernatural, University Life, and maybe even Into the Future; because EA and other people will be so focused on The Sims 4 that used copies will pop up and new copy prices will drop. I can't wait.