Next week is a big one for the game, bringing two significant pieces of content that some fans have spent years calling for. On March 14, the babies are being 'freed' with a base game update adding the new infants life stage.
Two days later is the release of the Growing Together expansion pack, which is aimed at enriching the family gameplay experience and may satisfy players who have wanted an expansion thematically similar to The Sims 3 Generations.
During an interview, Digital Spy asked lead producer Graham Nardone and lead designer Scott Dai how they balance listening to requests and looking at what has worked previously with also trying to innovate and create a fresh experience.
"You mentioned The Sims 3 Generations, and sure, that's definitely one of the past expansion packs we looked at," Nardone said, while discussing Growing Together.
"When you go into our communities and hear players talking, that's one of the ones they really key in on as, 'You need to add this to your experience if you want more depth in these certain areas of the game, with your household, with your family, with your relationships and the full story of their lives'.
"But let's fast-forward and look at Sims 4. Many of the features that are in Generations are actually available in Sims 4 already.
"We had to kind of break it back down and think, OK, it's not on a feature-by-feature level that [players] are necessarily asking for, for some of these themes to come back. But it's really that feeling of depth of family, depth of relationships, and having those bonding moments at each different stage of life that became key for us to hone in on."
Some of the features in Growing Together include family dynamic and social compatibility, which contribute towards adding more nuance to the relationships and interactions between Sims.
Milestones are another big feature in the expansion, marking significant moments during a Sim's lifetime and even granting rewards.
Lead designer Dai added that they consider feedback to see what areas of the game they can potentially add to.
"It's hard," he said, on striking a balance. "It's hard because they're different games. We've had a different sort of lifetime of The Sims 3 and The Sims 4... For us, from the design side, it's so important to be able to look at what our community is asking for and really look at the gaps in player experience.
"I think it makes our job easier to be able to figure out where in the stories our players are telling do they have missing opportunities, as opposed to doing that more feature-by-feature comparison, because as Graham said, a lot of those individual features may already exist in The Sims 4.
"What we ended up with I think is fantastic, and being able to tell those stories through the milestones that your Sims gain as they grow up and being able to see some of those milestones to be a little bit bigger or more important – or figure out how they interject into a Sim's life – was really our way of getting at that sort of request to feel like our Sims' lifetimes are fuller and that their relationships are deeper."
Elsewhere in the interview, Nardone discussed making the infants life stage free and how the base game update complements the new expansion.
"When we look at what our community is talking about, there's certain things that we want to bring to that that are expectations for base game experiences, and we felt like infants was one of those things where at its core, this should be something that's available to all of our players," he explained.
"And then with each of our packs, we go deeper into the experience and that's exactly what you're going to see with Growing Together."
The Sims 4 Growing Together is released on March 16 on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
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