Something to look forward to: Maxis has just revealed some new news about Project Rene, which some have dubbed “The Sims 5.” It confirmed rumors that the game was free to play, hinted at the studio’s monetization plans, and told us why we shouldn’t call it The Sims 5.
On Tuesday, The Sims developer Maxis confirmed June rumors that the next The Sims game, codenamed Project Rene, would be free to download and play. It also won’t be based on a cheating energy system that limits your playtime unless you buy energy (I’m looking at you, Sims Mobile). The core game will be completely free without a subscription.
In a chilling Behind The Sims presentation obviously aimed at the tween demographic (below), Lyndsay Pearson, vice president of Franchise Creative, speaks indicated that Project Rene would adopt a monetization model similar to the ongoing development of Sims 4.
Read our special feature: The Sims: 22 Years and Beyond
“We want Project Rene to be free to download,” Pearson said. “And that means that when it is ready and fully accessible to our players, you will be able to join and play and explore Project Rene without a subscription, without purchasing a core game, or without any energy mechanics.”
The vice president said that development would be supported by sales of DLC. She was quick to mention that players would still get some content for free, but there might be expansions for free DLC that would come at a price. For example, developers can introduce a free weather plugin while charging for related playable features like ice skating or snowball fights. Pearson was a bit vague about it, but monetization is still a factor that Maxis is eliminating.
However, Pearson has clarified that Project Rene is not The Sims 5. Maxis plans to launch Project Rene – or whatever it will ultimately be called – alongside The Sims 4 and support both independently.
“Project Rene and other Sims games, including The Sims 4, will coexist for the foreseeable future,” explained Pearson. “This means that Project Rene has no intention of replacing your current great Sims experiences.”
The Sims 4 is already a DLC cash cow, and that won’t change in the near future. This will fund the initial development of the Rene project. Once up and running, Maxis and EA will have an additional, undetermined revenue stream running on the same franchise.
Pearson emphasized that the ultimate goal of Project Rene is to present a different way to play The Sims. However, she didn’t share any new details, instead choosing to reiterate what we already knew. The game supports multiplayer and cross-platform play. The building system is also being completely rebuilt, which is wonderful. The Sims 4 now offers so many options that building, furnishing, and decorating your homes is a challenge for anyone who hasn’t progressed with the game since launch.
Whatever the final name and product, it will be welcomed by fans who haven’t seen a new entry in the 23-year-old series in over nine years (aside from 2017’s crappy Sims Mobile). Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done on Project Rene. When Maxis announced it last year, it was still in very early stages of development and took several years to release.