During GamesCom’s Opening Night Live, a brand new Sims 4 DLC pack was announced. Star Wars: Journey to Batuu based on the attraction at Disneyland Anaheim, with all sorts of Star Wars related stuff that you can bring back to decorate your Sim’s house with.
Judging by the likes and dislikes ratio for the official trailer, people (or Simmers as they tend to be known as) hate it, but should they be more forgiving?
Firstly though, a bit of context for the uninitiated in how The Sims 4’s DLC works. Generally speaking, The Sims 4 has had three content updates each year. These come in the form of big Expansion Packs, smaller Game Packs, and even smaller Stuff Packs. The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu is a Game Pack, which is the regular size Sims meal. They generally cost around £17.99 and have a fair amount of stuff in them, but not as much as the full-blown expansion packs. A big reason that people are annoyed with the Journey to Batuu Game Pack is because it’s not what they wanted. They didn’t want Star Wars, they wanted to make hotels, hve more options for kids, or introduce new themes like farming or weddings.
Much of the vitriol seems to stem from Simmers that were jilted by the previous Stuff Pack, which was decided via a poll. On the surface, you would think that the community got what they asked for: an arts and crafts themed pack with the gameplay being all about knitting. However, the general consensus from the Simmers has been that the developers at Maxis haven’t been listening to the fans, doing the minimum with what was apparently a barebones effort.
This kind of complaint, that Maxis just aren’t listening, is not exactly a new point of contention either. After all it took five long years before Simmers got the Discover University expansion pack.
However, I think this tweet makes a fantastic point: some people may be interested in different things.
I'll admit, I'm not the BIGGEST starwars fan out there .. I do like it, but I don't go out of my way for it. However due to this pack my husband might actually try the game finally after years of me asking him to try it so, will say this this may very well bring in new players.
— MexicanKiwi91 #BlackLivesMatter (@MKiwi91) August 28, 2020
I own The Sims 4, but I’m not the primary person who plays the game – that would be my partner. Do we own all the Sims 4 DLC? Of course not! We’re not made of money. Instead, we pick and choose the packs we’re most interested in. My partner wants to spend lots of time raising dogs, looking after the planet, and having her Sims go to university, so naturally picked up those expansions while I just wanted to spend a few hours having my Sims go to Hogwarts and hunt aliens.
Both of these styles of play are valid and with a game like The Sims 4 there can absolutely be something for everyone. There are some who like their Sims experience grounded in reality, while others want a more fantasy-based vibe. Journey to Batuu has gotten me properly interested in The Sims for the first time since the Realms of Magic game pack, so I’m much more inclined to pick it up.
At the same time, I’d then be more than happy for the next Sims 4 expansion pack to feature something long-term fans want, and agree that Star Wars is definitely not in keeping with what a lot of Simmers have been expecting – it’s not really a realistic DLC pack. But let’s be honest, the Island Living expansion and its mermaids weren’t exactly grounded in reality either.
The arguably bigger argument is that by using Star Wars instead of a generic space theme, this is shameless product placement and all about the money – a point that has been made many times in the comments of the official trailer uploaded to YouTube. I don’t think this argument holds water. EA have exclusive rights to make games with Star Wars stuff in it, so it was really only a matter of time before it came to The Sims. They’re simply taking advantage of a huge, multi-generation defining IP that they can already use without having to broker a deal first. I’d also argue that EA and Maxis have done much worse with The Sims and product placement over the years.
If we’re talking about The Sims at its most shallow, let me introduce you to The Sims 2: H&M Fashion Stuff. It was literally an advertisement for the fashion retailer’s current outfit range in 2007. Sure, you could design your own boutique, but it was mostly about the fashion.
It also generated this literary work of art:
But this is from over a decade ago. Surely Maxis learned their lesson? No, in fact I’d argue that The Sims 4: Moschino stuff pack from last year is far worse. This was yet another fashion-based DLC pack that not only acted as product placement, but locked away a career choice that some people might have wanted: the freelance fashion photographer. New careers are normally reserved for either Expansion or Game Packs, so locking it behind this is a big blow for those who wanted the career, but didn’t want to support Moschino.
Thematically though, these do fit in better with how many play the Sims than Star Wars ever could. I get that. I also think people need to look at Journey to Batuu in a different way. If you’re someone, like me, who just wants to hold a fancy dress party in their Sims 4 house (because we can’t really hold real-life parties during a pandemic), then there literally isn’t a better theme than a Star Wars Cantina.