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EA's New Update Seems Less About Representation, More PR Control

Electronic Arts and The Sims 4 team announced Tuesday they will be adding “at least a hundred” new skin tones to The Sims 4 base game.


“We’ll be improving the blotchy artifacts and ashy appearance of darker skin tones on mid and high spec machines,” the team wrote in their statement addressing the upcoming changes.


The team says the swatches will have “a particular emphasis on darker skin tones” by December of this year. Each skin swatch will include its own slider for players to be able to modify the tones. Sliders will also be included in the makeup section of Create-A-Sim.


We won’t have to wait for December to see improvements being made to better the appearance of Sims of color. Before we can expect to diversify the skin color of our Sims, the team also announced the improvement of four base game hairstyles—two will be released on Oct. 6, and the other two will be released with the bigger update in December.

 

The desire for better representation in The Sims franchise is nothing new. Back in August, various YouTubers who play the life simulation game took to the video site to voice their concerns about the lack of skin tone variations.


Often, I think, we gamers feel as if developers and publishers do things specifically to pander to us. We sometimes think the worst, believing they don’t care about our worries and just about what their finances will look like in the next quarter.


For a long time, however, The Sims 4 customers have felt like EA and Maxis aren’t listening to them. In a Digital Spy poll, Star Wars was the least popular idea for an expansion pack, the poll being one month before the announcement of Journey to Battu. This fear of not being listened to was amplified when that very Star Wars game expansion pack was released on Sept. 8. It has one and a half stars on Google, with one review on the search engine calling it “a playable advertisement for the Star Wars feature at Disneyland.” 


EA, Maxis and The Sims franchise know they have had the last 20 years to craft their simulation game to be one of the best. We, as Simmers, know that until recently no other simulation game has come close to being able to compete with what The Sims had created.


This has caused developers, in my opinion, to get lazy with The Sims 4. I didn’t buy The Sims 4 until 2017, but there were a lot of talks when the game was first released in 2015 that there were objects not included in the base game that was present in prior base games. For example, pools—a staple since The Sims first came out in 2000—were not added until a patch update. Until the patch update that came with The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle, players were not able to freely place windows and doors


I don’t think this rollout of “at least a hundred” skin tone swatches should convince any gamer that EA and The Sims 4 team are finally listening to us. I find this to be damage control for their lack of listening. I’m curious, however, so see what the improvements to the four base game hairstyles will look like. Though, I would love to see more Afro-centric hairstyles in general come into the base game with this upcoming variant of skin tones.


The next patch update for the Sims 4 will be Oct. 6 for PC/Mac and on Nov. 10 for consoles. 

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