The Sims is a massive franchise, with the original game releasing in 2000. Over 20 years later, it is now in its fourth era with The Sims 4, which has been out for quite some time now and still releasing new content. With such a creative concept, it’s no surprise that the games have inspired spin-offs. Along with mobile releases of the main games, there have also been standalone games with different themes that puts Sims in different situations. There have been many spin-off games for The Sims, so let’s look at 10 of the best.
The games are not ranked worst to best, but listed in the order of their release date. Some of these games are still available to play, while others may not be.
(Video by Evolution List)
THE SIMS ONLINE
This was the first attempt at an MMO port of The Sims, released in 2002 for Windows.
The Sims Online was very different to the original game. In this game, there were different cities you could play in, some with unique benefits. For example, Betaville was a place for testing new features, while the Test Center was where players had three times the starting amount of money for their Sims.
Your Sims could get 4 different jobs, but there wasn’t a lot of choice and these jobs didn’t make a lot of money. Fortunately, it wasn’t the only way to make money. Players could get quite creative in The Sims Online. They could set up their own item shops and use objects to make items like pizza and paintings, allowing them to sell their own things to others. Players setting up their own business in The Sims has long been a popular feature, and the fact that they could do practically real-life business rather than just a virtual pretend one was even better.
(Video from SimsDomination YouTube Channel)
The most popular market for money spinning was real estate, where players could buy, sell, and rent property to others. The property system was quite detailed. Properties had different categories, including Services, Shopping, Entertainment, Residence, and Skill. The property type affected what players could do with them, including what objects were available. This gave players a lot of choice in what they could build and do with their properties, beyond just creating a home to live in.
The main thing that players loved most about The Sims Online was that they could interact with other players from around the world. Instead of just interacting with NPC Sims, these Sims you saw in the game were representations of actual people. For its time, it was a very innovative move, and one that was well-received.
In March 2007, The Sims Online was re-branded as EA Land, but sadly, not long after this, the game was shut down in 2008 as the team behind it moved onto other projects.
(Video by The Sandbox Social)
THE SIMS BUSTIN’ OUT
Bustin’ Out was a 2003 follow-up to the original The Sims console game, but with many improvements. The big selling point was that your Sims could strike out (or “bust out”) from home on their own. No longer were your Sims restricted to just one lot to play in.
The main goal was for your Sim to make their way up to the top of their chosen career, whether they were a movie star or a scientist. There were lots of cool careers you could choose from! As you worked your way up, your Sim moved around, visiting different places and meeting other Sims. It was goal-driven, so your Sim would have to complete tasks to progress. If your Sims didn’t already have enough to deal with, they had one obstacle in their path: Malcolm Landgraab, a rich Sim who caused trouble by taking away possessions from properties. It’s this reason you had to rise to the top of your career and complete goals.
(Video by VideoGameJunkie)
When your Sims reached the top of their career, not only did they get the glory of achieving this hard-earned accomplishment, but also a cool, funny and satisfying cutscene involving them and Malcolm. He would get more karma when you booted him out of his swish mansion and moved into it yourself!
The Sims Bustin’ Out gave you two play modes to choose from. One was where you played the game’s story. However, if you weren’t interested in doing missions and wanted to do your own thing, you could do so with freeplay mode. This allowed you to play The Sims in the traditional way; a sandbox game where you decide what to do and what place your Sims will live in. No rules, no objectives, just you doing whatever you pleased.
Bustin’ Out received positive feedback from both players and critics. It even went platinum on PS2 in Europe. Bustin’ Out might be an old title now, but it’s certainly not forgotten, and it remains a classic spin-off.
(Video from Pixel Theater YouTube Channel)
THE URBZ: SIMS IN THE CITY
As the title suggests, The Urbz was basically The Sims, but set in a city. The premise was similar to that of Bustin’ Out; your Sims moved out from home and broke out on their own, this time in the big city. All the characters, outfits, locations, gameplay, and music had an urban theme that made it stand out from previous Sims games. In the city, your Sims could visit such places like the subway and nightclubs, something a little different and edgier. Instead of living in houses, your Sims stayed in apartments. Your Sims also got to meet unique urban NPCs specially created for The Urbz. Each district also offered different types of urban-style clothes that you could buy and wear, depending on the location and who hung out there.
Sims could make money by working at different jobs. These jobs actually required you to press buttons to make money. The more successful you were, the more money you made. This was probably one of the earliest forms of active careers, a popular feature later seen in The Sims 3 and 4. It certainly made a change to your Sims going off-screen for several hours and coming back with money and their needs depleted.
(Video from Ninsegalover YouTube Channel)
One of the main goals was to earn Rep (Reputation), which you got by interacting with other Sims. Rep was important for progressing in the game, getting to visit new areas, and getting VIP access to things such as parties and special venues. When interacting with other Sims, you had to watch out what you said or did, as successful interactions were important for progressing. Fortunately, The Urbz helped you out here by color-coding the list of interactions according to how successful your Sim would be doing it. Green meant it would go well, while red meant you’d likely fail.
The Urbz also featured the Black Eye Peas as themselves in Sim form. They even provided some of the music for the game. The Sims has featured music from big stars over the years, such as Katy Perry. This was probably one of the earliest celebrity collaborations and in-game cameos in the series. It certainly helps to have a famous music group endorsing the game.
The Urbz: Sims in the City may have got mixed feedback from critics, but this game earned itself a cult status.
(Video from IGN YouTube Channel)
MySims was a cutesy spin-off Sims game with Chibi-type characters that were each unique, such as DJ Candy, Goth Boy, Buddy, Chef Gino, and many more, as well as being able to create your own character. It wasn’t just the art style that made it so different to The Sims. The gameplay was its own too. You didn’t have to worry about bills, or death, or juggling your Sims needs, or going to work, or slogging hours away building up skills.
In the original MySims, your character moved into a rundown town, where the mayor asked for your help in making it a thriving town again. The main gameplay involved constructing objects for other Sims using resources called Essences, which you could find around the world using various methods such as digging, shaking trees, fishing, and even interacting with people or objects. As you moved Sims in, constructed their homes and helped them out, the star rating of your town went up. You’d get rewarded with new Sims to meet and move in, new objects to build, and new areas to unlock. MySims was also the first game in The Sims series to introduce the mechanic of being able to alter your character’s voice, which was implemented in The Sims 3 onwards.
MySims was a fun and family-friendly spin-off, spawning many sequels such as MySims Kingdom and MySims Racing. Each of these games brought something different, but they all had fun characters, compelling stories, and great gameplay. It’s a shame that no other MySims games has been released since.
THE SIMS STORIES
The Sims Stories was essentially The Sims 2, but instead of letting you do whatever you wanted, your Sims had to complete goals to progress the story. This was a similar gameplay style to that of Bustin’ Out, The Urbz, and The Sims 2 on console. However, Stories did come with the classic freeplay mode, so if you wished, you could create your own Sims, build their own homes, and play out their lives however you wanted, telling your own stories.
There were 3 games in this series; Life Stories, Pet Stories, and Castaway Stories. In each game, you could choose to follow two different Sims and their lives. Completing tasks progressed the story and also unlocked rewards such as new objects. While The Sims Stories was very similar to The Sims 2, it did offer new objects not seen in the original PC game. Each of the 3 games were different to each other, with different Sims, settings, and objects. Life Stories, the first game, was based on the original The Sims 2, Pet Stories was based on the Expansion Pets, and Castaway Stories was its own original concept.
Castaway Stories was particularly stand-out compared to the other two games. Your Sims got shipwrecked on an island, where they had to use whatever they could scavenge to survive. This offered new gameplay that the first two games didn’t have, such as gathering resources and venturing on foot to other areas. This was the first Sims game to explore life in The Sims without all the modern-day conveniences such as technology. Life without jobs, bills, TVs, phones, cars, and shops is certainly very different. The Castaway edition of Stories led to another Sims spin-off, that being…
THE SIMS 2: CASTAWAY
The Sims 2: Castaway was a console/handheld spin-off game of The Sims 2. The premise was your Sims got shipwrecked on an island, then either had to find a way to escape or make a home on the three islands. Whatever you chose to do was up to you; that’s the beauty of The Sims.
Your Sims had everything they needed to survive. Using the plethora of resources you could gather, you could craft tools, clothes, furniture, and even whole shelters. There was also plenty of food to eat to keep your Sims alive. The islands themselves were very interesting. You could discover long-forgotten tribes, alien life, crashed airplanes, pirate treasure, and even an active volcano.
In Castaway, there were tasks that you could complete, if you wished. Completing these earned you rewards, such as the ability to dye clothes or being able to craft new and better furniture. There were also side quests to complete, such as locating all the pieces of a pirate map that led to a hidden location and some cool rewards.
If you created more than one Sim, you could form a tribe and assign tasks, sending Sims off to gather resources or catch fish. This was a very useful system if you didn’t want to be left doing everything yourself and wanted to make other Sims useful. If you only created one Sim, they wouldn’t be alone, as the islands were populated with chimps. If you bribed them with enough bananas, they could bring you items.
There was also weather to contend with. You could get caught in the middle of a vicious thunderstorm, which would extinguish any fires, wake up your sleeping Sims outside, and damage shelters. The rough conditions also degraded your Sim’s appearance, their clothes getting torn and their hair growing overtime. You could groom your Sims though, and either mend their clothes or replace them with new ones.
The Sims 2: Castaway gave you a real sense of the seriousness of being stranded on the islands. While exploring and crafting was fun, you had to watch your Sim’s needs, especially hunger. If hunger reached zero, your Sim died. Fortunately, there was a way to revive them using a special potion your Sims could brew… providing there were other Sims that could make it. Energy was another important need. If your Sim’s energy was too low, they wouldn’t be able to travel to new areas. Skills were important too, as these allowed you to craft better items. The Body skill was particularly important, as you needed it to get to hard-to-reach places.
(Video from joshua skarstrom YouTube Channel)
THE SIMS MEDIEVAL
You could go back in time with your Sims in The Sims Medieval, released during the era of The Sims 3. The games shared the same graphics, but in Medieval, it was tweaked to create a beautiful painterly look to match the time period.
Set in a kingdom, you could create and play up to 10 Hero Sims. Each Hero Sim had a different role and abilities. You could have a physician, blacksmith, monarch, and more. You completed quests, which added points to your kingdom and raised your Hero Sim’s level, which unlocked new abilities. You could choose different ways to approach certain quests, and decide which Sims would do it. As your kingdom gained points and your Sims levelled up, you could upgrade your kingdom and get new quests.
Your kingdom had attributes, which were important in how it functioned. A kingdom with low security and well-being were riddled with troublemakers and diseases. The quests you completed and buildings you placed affected your kingdom’s attributes.
Completing quests and expanding your kingdom was never that straightforward. Depending on their role, your Sims had certain tasks to complete each day within a set time. Failing to complete them could have consequences. You also had to deal with negative Buffs (the equivalent to Moodlets in The Sims 3), which negatively impacted on your Sims completing active quests. Every Hero Sim also had a Fatal Flaw, a negative trait that could affect day-to-day life. Fortunately, these weren’t so severe that they made it impossible to complete quests. One quest gave you the opportunity to swap out a Fatal Flaw with a Legendary Trait.
While some quests were very simple and quick to do, others took more time. Some could be very impactful and life-changing. Some quests had your Sims getting married and even having children. You might even end up killing your Hero Sims! Luckily, if they did die, you could just replace them.
The Sims Medieval was certainly an intriguing entry in The Sims series. It showed what The Sims could do with adventure and storytelling brought to the game. It probably also made players appreciate the modern-day setting of the main Sims games, with no phones, TVs, computers, or other modern-day conveniences.
THE SIMS SOCIAL
This was basically The Sims on Facebook, released in August 2011. It featured realistic-yet-more-cartoonish 2.5D isometric graphics not like previous Sims games.
Gameplay was similar to the original Sims, but tweaked to be adapted to work as a social media game. You created your own Sim character, but this one you used to interact with your friends on Facebook. Since The Sims Social was a Facebook game, it heavily encouraged players to interact with other players in order to progress. To complete quests and assemble certain objects, you’d need to receive gifts from others. To get gifts, you’d have to send requests or interact with your friend’s Sims. You earned in-game currency from completing certain tasks, which you could then spend on new objects.
When it was first released, The Sims Social got over 65 million players in its first week, and became one of the fastest growing Facebook games of all time. Sadly, its popularity gradually declined, and it finally closed in June 2013. Although The Sims Social had some flaws, it was a great game for interacting with your friends over social media.
THE SIMS FREEPLAY
The Sims Freeplay is a mobile game, classed as a freemium reimagining of The Sims 3.
Many see Freeplay as an improvement over The Sims Social. For a start, Freeplay no longer requires you to ask your social media friends for favors such as requests for gifts. This makes it much easier to progress in the game if you have limited friends online or funds.
One significant mechanic in Freeplay is that the game runs in real-time, similar to Animal Crossing. This means that actions in the game takes real time. For example, if your Sim sleeps for eight hours, it’ll take eight hours of real time for them to sleep. Some might see this as a bit of a downside, but it’s not necessarily. Freeplay should be approached as if it’s a virtual pet game. While your Sim is sleeping or eating, you can leave your game for a while, or you can go to another Sim to play with.
The great thing about Freeplay is that you can play many different Sims, and you can build multiple properties, rather than being restricted to one property and one Sim, like The Sims Social. The building system in Freeplay has also been highly praised, with people sharing their creations online.
The Sims Freeplay has fared pretty well since its release, and is still available to play today. It has received many content updates, the last being in January 2022.
(Video from The Firemonkeys YouTube Channel)
THE SIMS MOBILE
The Sims Mobile is simply The Sims 4, but on mobile. Unlike The Sims 4, The Sims Mobile is free-to-play, and as a mobile game, you can take it anywhere with you, making it easier and more accessible to play. Compared to Freeplay, gameplay in Mobile is more superior. You’re no longer stuck playing in real-time with no easy way to skip time. There’s also no time limits when it comes to completing goals and events. It’s not as fun when you feel you have to rush your Sims to get something done within a few days. You also get more control over creating your Sims, as there’s more in-depth customization that mirrors The Sims 4.
Although The Sims Mobile got mixed reviews, it was nominated an award for Outstanding Video Game at the 30th GLAAD Media Awards.
(Video from GameTrailers YouTube Channel)
That rounds up the top 10 Sims spin-off games. Whether you play on mobile or console or play The Sims in a new way, the games sticks to the original goal of the series, which is giving you freedom and creativity. It’s been a while since a spin-off has been released, but maybe another will be on the horizon soon?
What spin-off would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!