The Sims is celebrating ten years since the first instalment in the series was released.
The Sims is 10 years old this week! To celebrate, we're dusting off our long look back at the series from the start of 2008, prior to the release of The Sims 3. For the full picture, make sure to check out our more recent reviews of The Sims 3 and The Sims 3: World Adventures. What's "happy birthday" in simlish?
Concluding our coverage of Chart-Track's annual report, today Kristan picks his way through the PC market, the burgeoning Xbox 360 market, and any other markets he can find. He was round here the other day admiring fish and everything. Multi-Market Reed we used to call him. I'm not saying he's promiscuous though. He is, but I'm not saying that. All data (and trout) from Chart-Track's annual report. Used with permission. And in Fisherman's Pies.
The steady decline of the PC software market was in evidence once again in 2005, with the total market share (by value) of all PC software (including non-games packages from the likes of Norton) representing just 24.6 per cent. By contrast, back in 1999, this figure was a whopping 41 per cent, although the actual money spent by consumers has remained roughly unchanged since that time (£299.188m in 2005, versus £290.316m in 1999, when you were clearly a bit stingier). Compared to last year, sales are down from their all-time value peak of £310.856m, which is a curious statistic when you consider that the actual installed base of PCs across the country has never been higher, broadband penetration has been soaring and prices of PCs are at rock bottom.
Oh-ho. I see what they've done here. Creating a game about working for the only group of workers in my line of sight (I'm sitting opposite a mirror) who actually enjoy waking up in the morning. Very clever! And they would have gotten away with it too, but I just punched myself in the face and remembered I think Open For Business is good anyway and if there's any wool in front of my eyes it's only because I was in the north of England yesterday and feel asleep and was probably attacked by a sheep. I hate sheep. Stupid feet.
Anyway, this is the third expansion for the second in EA's never-endingly popular Sims series, and adds a surprisingly significant chunk of new game, allowing you to start a business (either as an extension of your home or on a community lot) and use it to augment or even replace your regular job income. As part of this you get to manage staff and feel more directly responsibility for your sims' finances, you gain new skills and perks, and of course you gain access to a great range of new items (125 in total).
Unfortunately things don't begin too brightly, as for some reason Maxis' usual measure of what's intuitive is a bit off centre, and so you'll find yourself getting confused over how to call staff to work once you've hired them, what to do about the clientele when it gets to closing time, why customers in the little shop attached to your house keep popping into the rest of it and watching TV, and other fiddly things like how to restock and the way the game uses a flippable 'open/closed' sign to manually control business hours.
"One of our developers actually set up a shop selling stolen Xbox 360s," says Don Laabs, senior producer on Sims 2. He did what? "Well, he used the game device you can sell in-game." Oh, in the game.
EA has announced the third expansion pack for The Sims 2. It's called Open for Business and it's due out this year - release date to be confirmed.
The idea is to set up your own business, pretty obviously, and it sounds like there'll be various archetypes to pick from - trendy clothing boutiques (are we saying that? Trendy?), flower shops, restaurants and so on - after which you can concentrate on layout, merchandise, materials and hiring and firing.
It's all about building a successful business, obviously, and you can dabble in the minutiae if you like - helping sims to create new items, using some clever sales techniques, bartering over prices, and of course training and promoting people if you like. Or firing them, which is obviously what we're interested in.