The Sims 3 is the newest simulation game in The Sims series for Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to the highly popular and critically acclaimed The Sims and The Sims 2. The game was to be released on February 20, 2009, but was held off until June 2, 2009; a collector's edition was also made available.
In the 7th expansion pack for The Sims 2, The Sims 2: FreeTime, an event occurs in which a Sim-version of Rod Humble, The Head of the Sims Franchise, gives the player's Sim family an unopened gift box. When opened, the family gets a computer with The Sims 3 on it. The Sims 3 game cannot be bought in the catalog. Sims can then play The Sims 3 on their computers or console systems. Like all the other games that Sims can play in The Sims 2, The Sims 3 is a looping game play video shown on the player's Sim's computer screens when played by a Sim.
In the expansion pack Apartment Life, players can purchase computers or posters with the The Sims 3 logo.
On July 15, 2008 the first video preview of The Sims 3 appeared on the official website as did seven new screenshots and five Create-A-Sim screens. Four screenshots that appeared on the website and were then taken down soon after, leaked onto the internet from a member of the community.
Copies of the video game Spore also came packaged with flyers advertising the game, with information stating whole-neighbourhood accessibility and endless possibilities on character creation.
On May 15, an email was sent out to early sign-ups on the website. The people who signed up early, known as "Founder" VIP's, get special screen shots before their release to the website. The regular VIP email service is still available to the public. As of August 13, 2008, accessing the VIP section of the official site requires a passcode, which is received when signing up to the service.
In the April/May 2008 edition of Games for Windows: The Official Magazine, there is a 12-page preview of the game. This preview explains that Sim houses and neighborhoods will be entirely in one seamless, continuous map, and states that "What you do outside your home now matters as much as what you do within".
Of the eight needs of The Sims 1 & 2, only four - bladder, hunger, energy and fun - remain. These will be complemented by moodlets - attributes which are acquired by special events (minor events like tooth brushing, and major ones like wedding), and affect the Sims' behaviour. The Want and Fear system of The Sims 2 is replaced by Wishes and Opportunities.
Several features from The Sims 2 expansion packs will appear in the original The Sims 3, such as the "young adult" life stage and mobile phones (University), private cars (Nightlife), fishing (Seasons) and jewellery (Bon Voyage).
As in previous games, Sims can paint. But paintings will now be more unique to each Sim. The environment will be more dynamic with shadows and trees moving in the wind.
Sims at work
The game will also incorporate further aspects of real life, including several new jobs. Some available careers are politics, criminal, military, science, chef, and entertainment. Each career has a workplace building in the neighborhood, which Sims travel to for their shifts. Sims can also apply for jobs with these buildings. Though Sims are hidden inside buildings during the workday, the player can control their behaviour at work to a certain extent. Like previous Sims games, the job yields "opportunities" - tasks that could be finished for a reward. There are also part-time jobs. Sims can also take actions to increase their productivity while not at work, such as bringing work home or working overtime.
Create-A-Sim is the character (Sim) builder, where the polygon 3-D models of Sims can be modified by changing a wider variety of properties than what was available in previous instalments. This opens the door to creating completely unique Sims with regard to stature, height, weight, hair, and clothing. Players can customize nearly everything in the game, including furniture, clothes and shoes. Rod Humble described the new interface in Create-A-Sim as "drastically different".
Personality configuration for Sims has also been made more complex, with the original 'percentage bar'-style personality points replaced by a combination of traits, similar to those in the personals section of newspapers. Toddlers have two traits, and a new one is added for each new life stage, until they reach young adulthood - so they will have 3 as a child, 4 as a teen, then 5 as a young adult, which are the five traits they will stay with for the rest of their lives. In addition to this, individual fitness bars have been added to adjust the Sims' obesity and muscularity between extreme levels. In The Sims 2, there were only three body types. As in The Sims 2, body shape varies with diet and exercise.
The player can now choose their Sims' favourite color, music type, food, etc., an option not available in The Sims 2. Players can personalize much more about their Sim, such as changing body shapes as they could with faces in The Sims 2. Also there are sliders for weight and fitness, although Sims created as overweight can become slim by exercising and Sims created thin may become fat by eating too much and not exercising. Clothes are also customizable from Create A Sim. Players can change the color of a certain piece of clothes or use their own patterns.
Buy and build modes
The buy and build modes have been improved. The grid is finer, and there is an option to turn off the grid. Objects can also be rotated freely. Certain pieces of furniture, such as chairs and tables, can easily be moved together. The "auto-roof" function updates the roof when walls are rebuilt. Wide staircases can be built in one action. Basements are also easier to build.
Seamless, living neighbourhood
On March 19, 2008, EA revealed new game play experiences for The Sims 3, one of them being neighbourhood exploration. Players will be able to have their Sims wander around the world outside of their homes with no loading screens. This has been deemed a significant improvement from The Sims 2's method of restricting a player to a single lot at a time. This also means that the entire game is played in real-time, so Sims that the player is not using will still age and may get married, have children, and/or gain other memories and experience other events. With the absence of loading screens, it is possible to zoom in and out from a complete view of the neighbourhood to the inside of a house, a feature not technologically possible in previous The Sims series video games. Players will be able to interact with every building in a neighbourhood; none will simply be there to improve aesthetics. The game ships with one neighbourhood with 97 lots; a neighbourhood editor will become available for download later. Some buildings will be transparent for the player, while others - especially workplaces - will be "rabbit holes" where Sims are hidden.