Sims 2

WSJ writes on what to expect in the next version of the best-selling video game:

The game’s producers settled on the motto “Genes, Dreams, Extremes,” to describe the main new additions. The old Sims focus on characters’ physical needs, such as sleeping and using the bathroom, has taken a backseat to helping them fulfill life aspirations such as wealth and romance with psychological intrigue. The new characters will age and have babies, to whom they pass along physical and personality traits. In the version EA will show off this week, users can also play on their Sims’ fears, pushing them into breakdown that only an in-game shrink can help them snap out of.

The palette of character attributes, architectural options and objects has expanded dramatically in the sequel. Players will now be able to tweak their Sims’ noses and facial hair. There are 7,000 different permutations for objects in the game, including 12 versions of the Merokkan loveseat. Players will be able to create and save videos of their games to share with friends. Upgrades to the graphics make The Sims 2 strikingly more three-dimensional than its predecessor — though in-game encounters remain “teen-rated.”

Of the 12 million copies and 22 million expansion packs sold, half have been snapped up by women and buyers hail from most demographic groups. In designing the sequel, producers had to consider vastly different user tastes while also appealing to new players. Another challenge was to avoid larding the game with too many whiz-bang features.

An online flop of the game only ramps up the pressure. Released in December 2002, the subscription-based The Sims Online has fallen woefully short of subscriber targets, with under 75,000 currently signed up.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.