How The Sims became one of the biggest PC games ever

Posted by Ryan Mai on

Ah, the 2000s – a decade where Boy Bands expertly rose from bar stools in white suits, and the gaming world collectively mourned the loss of Lara Croft to the tombs she raided. While us 90s babies were singing Destiny’s Child songs about bills we didn’t have to actually pay for yet, collecting them soon became part of our daily lives as Maxis’ iconic PC game, The Sims, flew into our disc drives into the early millennium. 

The Y2K panic may have been over, yet unsupervised Sims around an oven certainly replaced that fear. Back in the late 80s, Will Wright created SimCity – a city simulator which allowed players to create and run their own metropolis. SimCity became its own successful franchise, however when Will Wright decided to take a look at the people inside the office blocks and power plants, The Sims was born.

Sure, there had been other simulation games on the market; you could argue that Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital widened its focus to people in some aspects, but it still dealt primarily with the building and running of a hospital. Yet, The Sims gives you complete control over individuals, helping to shape their lives, loves and futures. It also brought in a new audience to PC gaming and made its mark on pop culture with a generation understanding in-game references, even if they hadn’t played it.

Over an incredible 21 year period, the franchise has been catapulted onto many different formats: from your old school flip phone to the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and more, and The Sims took the world by storm. However, the best way to play God is still on PC.

Even now, many Simmers play the same; three fingers hovering over ‘1,2,3’ on the keyboard and the other hand on the mouse, ready to dart around the screen and queue commands for your Sims to follow.

As the disc whirred, you were greeted with the familiar jingle upon start-up. With a smile, you hit play and watched the loading screen whizz by with witty side scrolling messages, and were soon (depending on the speed of your PC) welcomed into the neighbourhood with the iconic sounds of The Sims’ Bossa Nova soundtrack. 

Six of the ten lots in the base game’s neighborhood were pre-built homes ready to move into, and staring at the lush greens and the roaring waters of the town served as the backdrop for one of the best-selling and iconic PC games of all time.

The Sims screenshot showing a Sim playing the guitar

(Image credit: Maxis)

Welcome, Newbie

A glowing red arrow pulses over 7 Sim Lane at The Newbies abode, inviting you ‘to learn how to play the game’. You’re somewhat welcomed with a belch from Bob Newie, patting his stomach as he stands in his kitchen. You move through the tutorial by following the instructions, while you command both him and his wife Betty to perform various tasks in their home.

§20,000 Simoleons (the in-game currency) were given to every player for you to either buy or build and furnish the house of your dreams. If there wasn’t enough in the kitty for you to buy that heart-shaped hot tub, everyone’s favourite cash-grabbing cheat could be entered by pressing Ctrl + Shift + C  with a smug smile. Ten points to you if you can remember the original cheat; and no, it’s not ‘Rosebud’ - you’ve all been lied to. 

How the word of The Sims cheats swept through schools with minimal access to dial-up internet at that time, we’ll never know, however we’ve been eternally grateful ever since. Yet playing without a helping hand offered a challenge if you had an expensive taste; suits of armour to adorn your halls weren’t exactly cheap in this game.

For younger players, The Sims demonstrated responsibility and consequence. If your Sim’s Plumbob, the icon above their head, changed from green to red, there was a specific reason. A glance at the needs bar would illustrate what your Sim required; whilst the ‘Bladder’ bar could bring both incontinence and embarrassment, abusing the ‘Hunger’ bar could lead your Sim to an early grave; just two of many elements that can still be found within the franchise today.

Skills that pay the bills

Of course, needs weren’t the only danger within the neighborhood. The Sims introduced a few antagonists from the get-go; and they weren’t always human. With public enemy number one typically being a pesky burglar wanting that flatscreen TV, other adversaries could simply be put down to your Sims’ lack of skills. 

We quickly learned that even the most basic of tasks posed a threat. Cooking without any of the appropriate skill points would soon set the entire kitchen ablaze, while repairing the TV without the mechanical skill could send them into a flurry of sparks. The first evening within any household would typically show a Sim with their head buried in a book to learn some new skills - as accidents could get pretty expensive.

Gaining skill points would help your Sims further their careers as some promotions could be obtained with the more they studied. Expansion packs began to be introduced, with Livin’ It Up being released that same year, and each one brought new career paths along with many new items, skins and locations.

However, when Superstar, the penultimate expansion, was released in 2003, the spotlight was turned on some of the skills you may have neglected while playing the game. 

Spending time honing your Sim’s creativity and charisma skills after a cringeworthy performance in front of Christina Aguilera in Studio Town would turn their vocal cords from a bag of cats being swung violently in an alley, to a voice that could make the strongest of people weep with ‘Thonsivee’, a true ballad for the ages. And no matter how much you try to kid yourself, you’ll still be able to sing ‘Glabe Glarn’ word for word to this day.


The Sims

(Image credit: EA)

‘Sul Sul!’

One of the most iconic parts of The Sims was its unique language of Simlish. Using the English language would cause Maxis to run into a few problems; mainly repetition. With so many hours expected to be sunk into the game, it simply wasn’t plausible to record thousands of phrases, especially as in those days the game came on CD, with limited storage space. To save both gamers' and developers' sanity, Simlish was created to distract from overuse of the same sentences.

The main voices in the game were from Stephen Kearin and the late, and exceptionally great, Gerri Lawlor. The duo improvised in the sound booth, using their talents to make a fictional language sound conversational. A language that’s surprisingly understood within The Sims community.

The Sims was a sure-fire hit, and a cultural milestone as well, so it was inevitable that a sequel would be in the works. A mere four years and seven expansion packs later, The Sims 2 burst onto our screens, so we said 'Sul Sul' (Simlish for goodbye) to the original game.

Screenshot of The Sims 2

(Image credit: EA)

Out with the old, in with the new

Long gone were the days of expressionless conversation, builds on two floors and hybrid graphics - with The Sims 2, we had more control over our Sims than ever before.

We were now able to view our Sim’s environments in full 360 degrees, and we also got free zoom, as opposed to the three preset zoom controls and four 90 degree fields of view that we’d been limited to with the first game. Being able to place a door or window on a diagonal wall was a thought that players could only ever have dreamed of only four years prior, but The Sims 2 introduced that ability as well, to the excitement of many players... look, it was a simpler time back then, OK?

Sims were now also generational; in the The Sims 2, a lifespan could be seen through right from birth to death; families could now become pregnant and have babies - both human and alien. Elders could become grandparents and you could attempt to carry on the family name for as many generations as you could.

The Sims 2 also blew us away with full customisation. We could now select body types, we had more variety in skin tone and every feature on your Sim’s face could be altered. It was certainly a far cry from cycling through different heads and outfit skins in the original.

Wants and needs were added as another new feature to the game, humanising your Sims that little bit more. With so many changes made, Maxis continued to blur the line of fantasy and reality. Once selected, it was time to create a new life for yourself in more ways than one.

screenshot of The Sims 2

(Image credit: EA)

The pitter patter of little feet

An expanded selection of items were not the only new features on the block; shock swept through MSN messenger as your Sims were now able to WooHoo and not just to create new life. 

Some Sims made sure their needs were fulfilled in more ways than one by having said activity in their wants bar. If you heard bells after an awkward cinematic of your Sim’s bed rocking, it signified that a little bundle of joy was coming.

Then, in just over three Sim days, the expectant mother clutched her swollen belly and with a spin found herself with a baby or two in her arms - if only it were that easy in real life. However, in true Sims style, alien abduction was featured as an alternate way for male Sims to get pregnant. Naturally.

Screenshots of The Sims 2

(Image credit: EA)

A new sign of life

Three neighborhoods were available to choose from in The Sims 2: Pleasantview, Strangetown and Veronaville, a town that was inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and they all held unique stories, characters, aliens and elements that the original game could not offer. 

Pleasantview’s opening cinematic left us itching to settle into our new neighbourhood. Stories took place 25 years after the original, with developers offering an abridged version of events that had occurred, introducing new families with complex backstories and referencing some original families from the first game. The Goth family and their mysteries are arguably the most notable in Sims history; will we ever know the truth about Bella Goth?

Meanwhile, Maxis introduced a brand new set of expansion packs for The Sims 2 and witnessed the birth of themed ‘Stuff Packs’. Previous players felt that some expansions ran parallel to ones for The Sims. While packs like Pets and Bon Voyage almost mirrored Unleashed and On Holiday, The Sims 2: University introduced another life stage.

Screenshots of The Sims 2

(Image credit: EA)

The expansion allowed your teens to blossom into young adults as they had a taste of college life, while Seasons allowed you to customise the weather in your neighborhood. If you want it to snow all year round, so be it. Having interchangeable seasons added another layer of immersion to the franchise, others such as The Sims 2: Nightlife allowed your city slickers to drive their very own vehicles... however it also gave us vampires.

More packs led to more music; with the score and music from Jerry Martin, Marc Russo and countless others being such a hit in the first games, The Sims 2 featured popular artists covering their own songs in Simlish. Paramore, The Pussycat Dolls and Lily Allen were some of the first artists to do so, and this has become a regular occurrence in future games.

The Sims 3

(Image credit: EA)

Where to next?

2009 saw the departure of original co-creator Will Wright and, just five years after The Sims 2 base game was released, The Sims 3 hit shelves and reignited the love for the franchise once more. This iteration pushed the goalposts even further with only one loading screen on initial start up. Your Sim could now leisurely walk to a neighbour’s house with no waiting; unlike the grey wasteland from The Sims’ original release, you’d have the ability to see every piece of scenery around you.

The backstories of The Sims’ residents took a different turn this time around as the game took you back in time. We were able to see the iconic character’s origin stories, with The Sims 3’s lore serving as the true origin story for the franchise.

A new feature that caused a stir amongst the community was the use of Rabbit Holes. These types of lots would differ from your average lot, as Rabbit Holes typically were incredibly large buildings that your Sims could perform certain activities in, yet you were unable to see just what they’d get up to inside.

Many fans became divided on this topic; it felt confusing as to why Maxis made the decision to take this view away from players, and made it feel as though they were trying to save time and energy in not allowing us to see what our Sims were up to.

The Sims 3

(Image credit: EA)

Same old, same old

In 2014, The Sims 4 arrived. This era has become the longest running in Sims history and the phase with most downloadable content to date, with a whopping total of 43 packs.

Throughout the franchise, there has often been criticism of why the expansion packs across the series have felt so similar and their content regurgitated. Over the years, many have questioned why basic features cannot be introduced as a base game standard, making players feel that recent iterations of the beloved franchise have been just another cash grab.

This game appeared to be met with the most criticism so far, as many felt that this generation took away previous features from The Sims 3, rather than adding more from the get-go. 

Neighborhoods were now cartoon-like, removing its 3D vistas and not allowing players to pan around their chosen cities like they had before. Lots were now the only 3D features on the map, with each neighborhood offering minimal empty lots for players to build on without destroying pre-built locations. Expansions offered new worlds, yet none were as vast as those in previous games.

The Sims 4 has divided players around the globe; building appears to have overshadowed playing in Live Mode, however it could be argued that players that have grown up with the franchise have altered their interests, potentially due to age. Even 21 years later, we’re still trying to achieve that dream home; but let’s face it, Simoleons are far easier to part with in game, than in reality.

The Sims 4

(Image credit: EA Maxis)

What the future holds

The Sims 5 has been teased for years, however it’s unclear where the franchise will head next. Developers have hinted that a game is in the works and the possibility of an online multiplayer option could be included, yet the question amongst Simmers remains: where do we go from here? 

With the latest expansion, Cottage Living, released in July, bug fixes and new, yet long overdue, updates regarding the whitewashing of many characters, The Sims 4 doesn’t seem to be dovetailing off any time soon.

The Sims 4 Cottage

(Image credit: EA Maxis)

Thousands of us have been hoping for The Sims and its original expansions to come to Origin; we got our hopes up on the 20th anniversary and were given an in-game hot tub - so we’re not holding our breath for the 25th, that’s for sure.

Present day, we’re unsure of where The Sims 5 may take us; we can only hope for more base game inclusions such as weather, pets and driveable cars once again. One thing is for certain, however; there will never be another franchise quite like it. 


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Bananas Store Phone Case

Bananas Store - The best place to buy phone cases

Banana Store is a global brand of accessories and cases for smartphones, from power bank, cable, charger, to all kinds of cases. Our products are for all smartphones on the market today. Including iPhone 12 Pro Max Cases. iPhone 11 Pro Max Cases, Galaxy Note 20 Cases, Galaxy S20 Cases ... There are many cute and luxurious cladding patterns here, its characteristics are very durable, good impact resistance, water resistance, and perfect fingerprint resistance. Our cladding products are widely available in international markets, United Stated (US), United Kingdom (UK), Australia (Au), Canada ...

About us

The Bananas Store was founded in 2016. We began globally and opened offices in the United States. We hit 1 million shipped pieces in 2017. With the goal of arousing self-expression, 2018 is the year we begin creating new products! In 2019, we've got over 2 million Instagram ads and cool people! In fashion and thoughtful mobile phone cases and accessories, Bananas Store is a pioneer. To transform your iPhone or Android into an accessory to brag about, we use quality materials and practical design. Bananas Store has ensured that every design is designed to protect your style and to complement it. Our products are designed to withstand drops from various heights on several different materials, to keep the phone intact, whether it is fitted with military-grade shock absorbing layers or the 10 'foot-die safety cast copper mold. For the newest smartphones, such as iPhone Xs Max, iPhone Xs or iPhone XR, we have a range of case styles. Bananas Store's Qi-certified mobile covers, screen protectors, and wireless chargers are protected by promises you can trust, in addition to attention to detail and sophistication in design. Our confidence in our products is shown by this guarantee. Our devoted customer service team is here to help if you find yourself in need of a replacement!

Our mission

Bananas Store is the world's leading brand of smartphone accessories, specializing in designing all types of mobile and tablet technology fashion cases. Since 2006, with products that cover, embellish and elevate their mobile devices, the company has helped customers express their personal style. The Bananas Store's team of design and technology enthusiasts have developed a series by collaborating with top designers from around the world and using cutting-edge technology and special materials. Suitable for all designs and all times. Rich box cover. Bananas Store is known as a dedicated address providing more than 500 types of cases for different phone lines, diverse materials, highest quality in the market, and affordable prices. With eye-catching designs that capture the heart of anyone at first sight, Bananas Store always satisfies its guests. It can be the combination of the signature and the flower on the phone case itself, or the fun, varied designs based on famous brands that are printed super sharp on the high quality case. .. and all of them always meet the three criteria: "Beautiful - toxic - substance". With the development of science, technology and technology together with the increasing demand and taste of customers, Bananas Store has been gradually upgrading workshops and always updated products, designs, and numbers. the quality and designs of the latest iphone & ipad and Samsung accessory market items. We're major believers in self-expression, so we just wanted to show it to those who dream and like to play, who decide that there's nothing lower than what's best for a shell. A phone of theirs!

Our products

Currently, the need to buy cases is huge, almost everyone who buys a phone buys the case because they want to protect the phone as well as meet the aesthetic elements for the phone. Bananas Store is a rich store with diverse designs of all materials, eye-catching colors to suit the tastes of consumers, especially for young people. IRing Ring Attachment Case, cute photo print back cover, tempered glass back cover, high-grade plastic panel with unique 5D printing technology, ... in large numbers currently available at Ha Duc Accessories All are enough for the most popular smartphones on the market such as iPhone, Samsung, Oppo, ... Printing workshop with the most modern printing technology closed line from Japan UV printer MIMAKI ultra large format 2.4m X 1.8m. The machine uses 8 RICOH GEN5 embossed 5D - 10D nozzles as required for true, fresh colors like a FULL HD photo 3 times sharper than conventional printers, along with the function of coating the textures. Small highlights and beauty for the product, French ink is extremely durable and safe for users. In addition to phone cases, Bananas Store also provides a number of other accessories such as camera sticks, charger toads, charging cables, technology toys, music speakers, romoss backup batteries, technology items, ... The variety, variety, price corresponding to that quality is what can be said about the phone cases that Bananas Store offers to the market. Moreover, with easy online payment policy, fast shipping and reputable return warranty, Bananas Store is always a reliable address for customers around the world who import wholesale and retail phone cases. FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT: Add: 2220 Meridian Blvd, Suite #FB114, Minden, NV 89423, US Email: