Monday, July 21, 2014

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In the Least Surprising News of the Day, The Sims 4 Will Have Premium Memberships

Sims 4 Premium
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Sims fans have caught sight of something alarming in a recent 20-minute Sims 4 gameplay demo posted to the series' official YouTube channel. A banner advertising "The Sims 4 Premium" popped on screen while the hosts were en-route to check out community content sharing features, promising discounts, early access, and exclusive items. The comparison is being made to the premium memberships offered for the Battlefield series, in essence a subscription fee that provides a good deal for players who plan to buy all or nearly all of the DLC content released -- and a good deal for EA if subscribers who planned to buy decide to abstain. 

But when it comes to this particular community and this particular franchise, I don't think the issue is quite that simple...

On paper it's really not a bad idea. If you know you want to buy the inevitable store content that will be released, signing on for Premium will likely net you a discount and a few additional goodies. The real problem is that thanks to its expansions, stuff packs, and store content, The Sims has become the ultimate punchline in jokes about game publisher greed. I'd argue that, at this point, it's eclipsed Oblivion's horse armor

The issue of EA's greed in relation to The Sims came up recently when it was revealed that both toddlers and swimming pools would be absent from The Sims 4 base game (but would presumably be returned through future expansions.) Suffice it to say that the massive Simming audience is hyper-aware of EA's willingness to nickel-and-dime them. 

It boils down to this: While Premium will be a good deal for some players, I can't help but feel that EA may end up paying for it in their own community's good will.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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Arcadia Codesmith

The days when everybody paid the same price and got essentially the same game experience appear to be rapidly receding. These days you can get a vast amount of entertainment for free, but if you want the full experience, you'll pay a premium for it.

I think Second Life may have contributed to the problem early on, by proving that you could give a base service away for free and still get a handful of elites to subsidize it for everybody else and make the payments on your new Beemer. All you had to do was give them access to virtual goodies that nobody else had.

Regardless of whether SL had any measurable influence, it looks like EA is embracing the paradigm with enthusiasm. They can and will do anything that enhances their revenue stream. Whether it contributes to a caste system of gaming haves and have-nots is (at least in their eyes) not their problem.

Kitty Revolver

This is why the game will likely be hard to mod and import cc.

EA is targeting the teens and tweens that play on iPads and smartphones. They are used to paying for small cheap items and add-ons, so by extending The Store into the actual game, which they already did in the Sims 3, they are making lots of money on small items that rack up and into premium accounts. Given all this bs, I won't be playing 4. I like the guided action of the game, but for the type of relationship I have with 3 (very very abusive) and will be nicked and dimed I will pass. #forgive #neverforget

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