Sims 4 review access reportedly withheld until release day


Yes, it is shocking.

It sounds as if, to avoid any pre-release criticism, EA might be falling back on the corny old tactic of withholding review copies of The Sims 4 until release day. That’s what’s being reported by IGN reviews editor Dan Stapleton, at any rate.

“EA tells me no one’s getting access ahead of release,” writes Stapleton on the ever-present network that is twitter.

Now, we haven’t had direct confirmation of this from EA or Maxis either way, but if IGN are getting turned down for early review copies that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the games press. I can also tell you that after initially offering an interview opportunity, Maxis has been dodging our attempts to follow up with that.

It’s possible this is something to do with The Sims 4 generating a fair amount of publicity for removing key features from the series.

While release-day review code isn’t unheard of, bigger budget titles from larger publishers tend to be available at least a few days prior to release. For The Sims 4 to not be available (assuming Stapleton has got that right) is a massive warning sign. I cannot stress this enough: do not pick this game up without first hearing some impressions from game sites or other sources that you feel you can trust.

The Sims 4 is coming out on 2 September in North America, 4 September in Europe and 5 September in the UK.

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  • Nasarius

    I suppose the kindest explanation is that they’re still scrambling to fix some major bugs in a Day 1 patch.

    Or that they’re simply being petty and screwing reviewers, because EA knows that their popular franchises will sell regardless.

    Or the game really is shit. Or, perhaps most likely: all of the above.

  • Paul Younger

    If there is anything to be learned from this and SimCity do not pre-order and wait for some proper reviews. I think Tim will be handling it here as he knows his Sims.

  • Elly

    That does not bode well.

  • Asteria

    It just means I will wait longer for the game, until I read the review.

  • Jay

    Another game did this. Realtime Worlds APB also had a review embargo mostly because the only nice thing about it was its character creator. From what I’ve read there’s a whole list of things confirmed that won’t be in the base game whereas they were previously in TS2 and/or TS3.

    It’s fine that they’re going back to the roots or whatever with me, really, but the direction is a little disconcerting. I can only hope their focus on character personalities pays off. I’ve not played many games with AI that was worth being called intelligent.

  • Ali

    I think the reason might be that prerelease leak of Sims 3. that game was available on torrent sites even before it released maybe they don’t want this to happen again.

    • Tim McDonald

      It’s a possibility, but I don’t think it’s a major one, not least because I’m sure it’ll have some sort of “activate once on Origin before you can play it” thing.

      Besides that: from what I can remember we didn’t get review code of The Sims 3 until after the game had already leaked so the leak presumably came from somewhere in the supply chain – although it may also have just been us getting late code! I can’t say the leak seemed to impact their sales much, either, but talking about piracy numbers and how many of those translate into “lost sales” is another discussion entirely.

  • I will write what I wrote on a similar article about this situation and see if the mods allow it to stay up this time.

    EA held a sims camp this summer for some of their more vocal and participatory members of the Simming community. While they were not GIVEN full copies of the game they were allowed to play full versions of the game for 6 hours and record footage of said game play. These Simmers have uploaded reviews to YouTube showing features and expressing opinions about the game.

    More gamers are NOT depending on corporate media outlets. They are making more of their purchase decisions based on peer-reviewed content. (My opinion) EA seems to be following the trend as paid reviewers tend to lean toward the sensational to try to get more views.

    • Paul Younger

      Dizzy. When fans are invited to special events they always write positive things about the game. Therefore their comments are not “peer-reviewed”. Publishers pay for fans to say nice things about their games, not with money, but with events, accommodation costs covered, food etc. That is why gamers who are at the heart of a community can not always be trusted as reliable sources.

      Our advice is to read reviews on independent sites like this one where opinion can not be swayed.

  • Even more so than Pools and Toddlers, I think what struck me is the size of the maps… For me this is the major thing. “Maps are too small” all over again. That’s how much they have learned in almost 2 years since SimCity.
    And that’s with loading screens everywhere, how can it be so S-M-A-L-L when you have loading screens between *each* lot! That’s technology of 2014 for you? I have actually heard some PR guy saying that this system was better than Sims 3…
    So small of a map that they had to grey it out painting all the buildings in that saddening white, just so you can’t see how blatant it is small. I don’t think you can zoom out very high or I haven’t seen anyone dare (or be allowed) to do it in the few Gamescon videos…
    So small that you don’t even need Cars any more in this world!
    So small and depressing that Sims have emotions now to keep them busy and if anything feel the dread of these ghostly “neighborhoods”.

    They are withhelding not because of fear of leak, but because they know what’s coming. And don’t worry we will get pools for free, you know the snake, with all the noise that happened, they won’t put it in a DLC like they planned, it will be in a free update just not on day 1. But be careful to rate the game however it’s going to be on day one. If they don’t think it’s ready they should never release it.

    I have seen these so called “fans” play, their 10 minutes videos, sure they are excited and love every minute of it, it’s always warming to have the “VIP” access of a game, I’m sure they even have cookies. But when I look at the gameplay I’m not that easily impressed, I don’t have EA’s cookies, and I don’t have early access, I’m just processing what I see like any other gamer. The problem with Sims 4 is that there seem to be so little to do compared to Sims 3. It might be ridiculous to you, but there are no urinals, and I don’t see myself going back and having my male sims sit down when going to the toilet and plenty of other missing items/features.
    You will have pretty sims but that’s pretty much all you get. I don’t even think there are achievements either as far as you can tell… That reminds me that in SimCity they never bothered to fix them! As of right now, they are not working lol! That’s something that’s so concrete that prove to you by A+B that the game is not working. That the product has never been fixed, 1year and half later! And they still have the guts to say “We haven’t given up on this game.”

    Sorry for the long post, I could go on forever. Sims 4 release will be a load of fun, my popcorn is ready.

  • tobactrac

    I doubt there’ll be any resolution to this what with the release date coming so soon, but I’m trying to gather opposition for review embargoes for any upcoming EA games if there’s any interest: http://gamerpetitions.com/petition/ea-review-embargo

    It’s just going to keep on happening. And, frankly, it has nothing to do with consumers who would wait for reviews anyway. They don’t care about that extra week. They care about preventing reviews from dissuading fans eager to buy the game, which totally undermines why reviews exist at all.

  • OK…here’s the thing. Charging $60 for a game and then slowly releasing $40 expansion packs that add alittle bit to the game is a bit of a money grab. But EA really crossed the line here. Clearly, this game has been significantly simpified with a focus on emotion targeting a more female audience. They took away content features to try to attract a more casual gaming market (the game is now more “cute”), which is fine. Where they crossed the line is they didn’t allow any pre-releases of the game so people could put any reviews out there of the sims 4, knowing that the hardcore gamers are much more likely to buy the game on day one and early reviews of the game would drive hardcore gamers away from it. This is shady. I’m boycotting all EA games at this point. I hope others will join me.