The Sims is the very definition of a Sandbox game. To enjoy it, you need an incredible imagination, creativity, and the kind of curiosity that is right at home in a literal sandbox. Meaning the games are as fun as you make them. If you’re the kind of person that craves structure, you may find yourself bored or underwhelmed.
But if you’re the creative type that enjoys simply watching and manipulating a facilimy of the human condition, you can have limitless fun with Maxis’s little people simulator that could.
Since 2000, there’s been four official versions of The Sims, plus associated spin-offs on console and a shockingly good RPG series on the Gameboy Advance. But as anyone even tangentially familiar with the series knows, there is no “Sims” without expansion packs.
The most recent expansion “Cats & Dogs” is now out and has been met with decent reviews; admittedly with some deriding its 40 dollar price tag.
That said, The Sims is almost review-proof. Its audience contains core gamers, yes, but lots of people, my sister included, love these games despite the fact they very rarely invest in the world of gaming. There’s a mass-market appeal to players who obsess over customization, design, and the notion of living a wildly fantastical virtual life, or simply living a virtual life that’s a notch better then their own.
So while 40 dollars may be a major hit in the wallet for gamers who spend a lot of money on games already, a 40 dollar expansion pack purchase for a casual gamer obsessed with the Sims, isn’t so bad.
And what better way to entice those obsessed fans to pick up the ‘Cats & Dogs’ expansion than by showing off the customization via the obsessive recreations of numerous Instagram famous pets:
Dawww. As the press release puts it: “Some of the most popular cats and dogs of Instagram have partnered with The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs, to show animal lovers how easy and fun it is to bring their furry best friends into the iconic simulation game which just launched a new expansion pack.”
And based on that, The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs seems to deliver. The customization is clearly robust, going as far as to enable you to make the cutest of all kittens, the Scottish fold kitten with a bow-tie:
And the cutest of all dogs, a Corgi that appears to be smiling…or up to no good:
What EA is doing here is sort of smart and sort of weird. By using already famous pets to promote their pet-specific game, they’re encouraging new players to check out one of the most seminal ‘sim’ games of our lifetime, and *also* promoting the notion that pet customization runs just as deep and is just as exciting as the customization for their human counterparts – I mean, if it’s good enough for Insta-famous pets, surely it’s good enough for me, right?
It’s easy to see the appeal. Back in the day there used to be entire communities dedicated to telling ‘Sims’ stories about celebrities. They’re be a ‘real world’ of horror movie serial killers, or an ‘N*Sync’ house; people loved the idea of playing as pre-existing people in this world – in addition to creating their own.
Whether or not that sort of appeal also appeals to people wanting to play as famous pets…is up to you, I suppose. And yes, before you ask, someone *has* made Grumpy Cat and yes, she does look Grumpy.