Maxis’ original The Sims was a single-player simulation game that could give you the life you never knew you wanted. With an infinite amount of customizable characters and steady Expansion Pack releases, The Sims quickly became popular with even the most hardcore gamers.
The Sims’ publisher Electronic Arts decided to combine the game’s rising popularity with the growing interest in MMORPGs. Games like World of Warcraft were quickly gaining attention and money with monthly fees and micro-transactions. Players weren’t happy about the additional costs, but publishers saw the easy money. Fans loved the game, despite their high costs, but most MMORPGs focused on action and not role-playing. In December 2002, The Sims Online was born.
The Sims Online was released during a time where many were still transitioning from dial-up modems to cable or DSL internet. If players didn’t meet the technical requirements, they were discouraged at the monthly fee and restrictions of the free version. Several more issues quickly arose, and EA Games lost interest. EA Games eventually bought out Maxis and began to focus more on the more profitable numbered sequels of The Sims.
Many players of The Sims games had no idea there was an online game version before the rise of mobile apps. The Sims Online had many issues at release, but there were still devoted fans who tried to make the best of their imperfect Sim world. Check out our list of some crazy facts about The Sims Online.
15 Custom Content Wasn’t Originally Available
The original The Sims was a basic isometric game. The graphics were not intensive, and even the primary font was Comic Sans. The Sims was a gateway for many young modders to start creating content for the game. Players hoped to have the same open opportunity with The Sims Online. Unfortunately, EA Games wanted users to focus on making money to purchase their content instead of making their own. One year later, Second Life, another MMOG, was released, which opened up a variety of custom content options. Several players decided to make the switch to Second Life instead.
Custom content wasn't made available until The Sims Online was re-branded as EA-Land. Players could upload .BMP and .JPG images to create custom objects. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough to make enough players want to continue playing EA-Land.
14 Simoleons Had Little In-Game Purpose
Do you remember "rosebud" and "klapaucius"? These were the cheat words used to make yourself wealthy in The Sims series. These cheats weren't enabled in The Sims Online, so if you wanted to spend money, you would have to earn it through working or providing a service. Money didn't have a huge impact in the game. There were several free activities to do in the game. Players could visit a house and take part in a house party. If they want to work, they can sit at a chess board and compete with another player. Simoleons were only vital if you wanted to purchase real estate, furniture, or clothing. Though you had to pay real life money to purchase The Sims Online and monthly subscription fee, the game did not require in-game Simoleons to have fun.
13 Players Received Meager Awards When It Shut Down
In 2007, The Sims Online players crowded around EA Town Hall for one final party. The next day, the game would be shut down, the servers wiped, and EA-Land would stand in its place. Devoted players were crushed by the news, but EA still wanted them to stay on for the re-branded MMOG.
EA Games offered faithful The Sims Online players a few perks ahead of the new incoming EA-Land residents. The base game for EA-Land would eventually have to be purchased, but The Sims Online players could play free for 60 days. They were offered $15 off any game on the online EA Game store. Players also received three months free of Club POGO, which offers several casual browser games. Though the rewards seemed meager, players had no choice but to accept them and hope for the best with EA-Land.
12 Was A MMO For Casual Gamers
It's no surprise that EA Games wanted to cash in on the rising popularity of MMORPGs. They knew there was a casual market for gamers who just wanted to socialize without worrying about leveling characters or having to purchase the best gear. The Sims was already popular, so EA decided to try making an online variant of the game, before the rise of social media and smartphone apps. Instead of creating a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, they opted to make a massive multiplayer online game MMOG instead. Players could still role-play, but only as humans, and the neighborhoods would replace fantasy worlds. The MMOG focused on player interaction instead of forcing gamers on various quests and a hunt for loot. It was a new experience separate from other MMORPGs on the market.
11 EA Games Was Disappointed By The Response
It's hard to fault EA Games for wanting to make a profit. They publish several types of video games, including purchasing Maxis, the original developer for The Sims. They hoped The Sims Online would be well-received by fans. With an economy-breaking glitch and lacking the ability to create custom content, players didn't enjoy the MMOG as much as EA hoped they would.
The base game for The Sims Online did not sell as well as the main numbered entries in the series. Players opted to move to similar virtual world games where they had the freedom to create various custom content. After rebranding the MMOG as EA-Land, the reception was so poor that it closed within weeks. According to Cnet "The Sims Online was widely seen as a failed attempt to port the single-player game to an online, multiplayer environment."
10 Find A Home In Over Ten Neighborhoods
There were twelve neighborhoods for players to call home. All of the neighborhoods included different terrains, such as mountains, beaches, oceans, and grassy plains.
Alphaville was the largest residential city in The Sims Online. It was so large that The Sims 3 named a sports team after the city, called the Alphaville Alpacas. Most of the cities were open to everyone with few rules. Some neighborhoods offered challenges to players. Dragon's Cove was the hardest to tackle, with mood bars that would decrease more quickly and prices for items were doubled. Betaville was a large test neighborhood with free will levels that would be adjusted. Test Center was where gamers could play with fewer consequences and more money, but was never allowed to move out because of the advantages they were given.
9 Was Only Available In One Language
The Sims Online was made available in physical stores in both North America and Japan. While downloading a digital game has become an everyday task for most gamers today, fifteen years ago it was incredible that players could purchase and download The Sims Online from the EA.com online store.
One of the highlights of playing an online game is the possibility of meeting new friends around the world. The Sims Online promoted a vast new world where players could meet fellow The Sims fans. Unfortunately, the game was only available in English. There were no additional languages or official translations. While this sounds great to English-only speakers, it severely limited the game's audience. The only universal language that was available to everyone was Simlish.
8 Required A Monthly Fee
In the early 2000s, MMORPGs were still learning how to be both stable online and how to maximize profits. Most games required players to purchase the base game for under $20 and pay a monthly fee of $9.99. Subscribing only gave you the ability to continue your Sims' adventure online. There were no additional items or bonuses given. You would still be responsible for making your Sims work and make their income to be spent in-game. Six years later, the game would later be free-to-play as long as you purchased the game. If you needed additional Simoleons, you could buy them through in-game microtransactions. With a video game where you have to work in real life to pay for your Sims' online life, the only one making any real profit was EA Games.
7 Offered Few Employment Options
While the game was dependent on player interaction, you still had to work to afford items and clothing. Building skills and working were important aspects of The Sims Online. There were four official primary jobs: DJ, Dancing, Robot Factory, and Restaurant worker. To be paid more, you would have to improve your skills. Skills would decay over time, so you would have to invest time into increasing skill levels.
There were also additional side jobs a Sim could do for more money. Many Sims opened item shops, where they could sell items they created. Other Sims offered services like making food, writing books, or selling paintings created on easels. The Sims Online also faced some controversy when some Sims were selling adult services for extra Simoleons.
6 Economy Was Player-Dependent
In The Sims Online, players were responsible for getting a job and making Simoleons. Many opted not to settle for one of the four primary employment options, deciding to provide services for other Sims instead.
Most players joined the real estate market. Players would buy property, then sell it for a higher price to other gamers. At first, this went horribly. There were no deeds, so players could scam others by offering to sell a property they didn't own.
Players who wanted to legally enter the real-estate market usually purchased zones to create and sell objects. A player could use a workbench in a Service lot to create items to sell in a Shopping zone lot. Though this took more effort than working one of the four base jobs, in the end it was more profitable.
5 Failed To Thrive On Facebook
Many small developers were bringing their video game projects to Facebook. With the rise of Farmville and Bejeweled, larger developers were taking notice. With the failure of both The Sims Online and EA-Land, EA Games tried to take The Sims to Facebook.
The Sims Social was born on the popular social media website in 2011. They used sim-lookalikes of celebrities like Lady Gaga and Elvis Presley to promote the game. The game was free-to-play and heavily relied on gamers asking for friends for help on various tasks. If a friend didn't play the game, EA hoped they could be persuaded by fellow players. Players could also purchase in-game micro-transactions for more Simoleons, exclusive in-game items, and clothing. The userbase quickly dwindled, and the game only lasted two years before being abandoned in 2013.
4 Ex-Maxis Developers Created A Free-to-Play Clone
After EA Games purchased Maxis, many of the developers stayed on to continue their work on The Sims franchise. A few developers left after The Sims Online was rebranded into EA-Land. Unhappy with the change, these ex-Maxis developers created a free clone called TirNua. The online clone is a browser-based game on their official website or Facebook and is completely free-to-play.
TirNua has shifted from the open world of The Sims Online into completing environmentally focused tasks. Gamers can still build their own homes, work, and interact with other players. TirNua still retains the isometric graphics that existed in The Sims Online.
Though TirNua isn't as populated as it was in 2008, it remains open for new users to enjoy today.
3 Costly Exploit Was Never Resolved
EA Games allowed players to take control of The Sims Online. The publisher only stepped in with Customer Support issues. In 2005, a glitch hit the game: a clothing rack used to sell clothing to other players could increase a player's profits. There were no limits to this exploit. It made poor players Simoleon-aires in minutes. With these newfound riches, players were buying up land and items quickly, and the Simoleon lost its power.
The exploit was discovered by EA Games a few days after its release. They quickly patched it, but the economy never recovered. For new players that came aboard after the exploit was patched, buying land and items was too expensive. The economy never fully recovered. Only after the servers were wiped and the game was re-branded EA-Land did new players have a chance of surviving.
2 Rebranded By EA Games In 2008
In 2008, The Sims Online was rebranded as EA-Land with hopes that it would renew interest in their dying game. The Sims Online's servers were completely wiped to make way for EA Games' new MMOG. While it required gamers to purchase the game up-front, it was free-to-play after that. Users would no longer have to pay a $9.99 monthly subscription fee. To make up for lost profits, EA Games added in several micro-transactions. For players who wanted to spend more time partying than working, they now had the option to purchase Simoleons with real-world money. The number of neighborhoods went from over fifteen to a small handful. Not all of the changes were negative. Besides from removing a monthly subscription fee, EA Games added the ability for users to add in custom-created options. This new addition created another revenue stream for players who enjoyed making and selling custom content.
1 Was Relaunched By Fans In 2017
With so many issues in The Sims Online, there was still a devoted fanbase. These gamers stuck with the MMOG, even after it was rebranded as EA-Land and eventually ceased in 2008. In 2010, a small team decided to work on restoring the game. They worked on to bring the game back to life as the TSO Restoration Project through a private server. EA Games found out and sent the team a cease-and-desist letter.
In 2017, FreeSO, or Free Simulator Online, was born. Although it is an unofficial, fan-run project, It aims to be as faithful to the original game as possible. It only uses the original The Sims Online software in combination with C# and Monogame, a framework for creating cross-platform games, to run on modern machines. With higher resolutions, two-floor homes, and better hardware rendering, devoted fans could find FreeSO to a proper replacement of The Sims Online.