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How much was The Sims 4 before it was free?

The Sims 4 base game originally retailed for $59.99 when it first launched in 2014.

Over the next 8 years, it eventually settled to a standard $39.99 price point across all platforms. Major sales could discount it down to $5 – $10 at times. But ever since the October 18, 2022 shift to free-to-play, the core Sims 4 experience is now 100% free on PC, Mac, Playstation and Xbox.

As a long-time fan of the franchise, I was intrigued by this transition. In this guide, we‘ll analyze the pricing history of The Sims 4 and what going free-to-play really means for the future.

A Brief History of Sims Pricing

Let‘s start with a quick overview of how The Sims games have been monetized over the past two decades:

The Sims (2000)

  • Base game launch price: $49.99
  • Expansion packs: $29.99 – $39.99
  • No microtransactions

The Sims 2 (2004)

  • Base game launch price: $49.99
  • Expansion packs: $29.99 – $39.99
  • Introduced "Stuff packs" for $19.99

The Sims 3 (2009)

  • Base game launch price: $49.99
  • Expansion packs: $39.99
  • Stuff packs: $19.99
  • DLC store for bonus items

The Sims 4 (2014)

  • Base game launch price: $59.99
  • Expansions: $39.99
  • Game Packs: $19.99 – $24.99
  • Stuff Packs: $9.99 – $12.99
  • DLC store with microtransactions

The Sims has continually expanded its monetization methods over the years – from no extra purchases at all initially, to the current model flooded with paid DLC.

Analyzing The Sims 4‘s Original $59.99 Pricing

When The Sims 4 arrived in September 2014, fans were eager to jump into the next generation Sims experience. However, some balked at the base game launching at $59.99 – a $10 increase over The Sims 3‘s initial price.

Many players expected a continuation of the $49.99 standard. So what led to the pricing hike for The Sims 4?

Factors Behind the $59.99 Pricing:

  • Bigger budget – Estimated $100 million development cost
  • Next-gen consoles – Built for PS4/Xbox One power
  • Major engine overhaul – New Create-a-Sim and Build Mode tools
  • Custom animation rigging – More personality and emotions for Sims
  • Smarter Sim AI – Multi-tasking and enhanced behaviors
  • New audio components – Upgraded voice acting and sound

$59.99 matched other premium console titles at the time. But the increase visibly shocked portions of the player base, leading to…

Why Did The Sims 4 Price Drop to $39.99?

Despite strong initial sales, The Sims 4 received notable criticism around missing features and depth compared to past games. Many players felt it didn‘t warrant the new $59.99 price point.

In response, EA and Maxis gradually updated the game with free patch content to address complaints. Then in June 2017, they permanently dropped the base game price to $39.99 – much closer to Sims 3‘s original cost.

This $20 price cut came nearly 3 years post-launch. The goal was to boost interest from players dissatisfied with the initial offering. And it worked – The Sims 4‘s player base grew substantially following the discount.

Lowering the barrier to entry while improving free content updates turned around public perception. For the next 5 years, The Sims 4 remained at the $39.99 sweet spot.

Tracking The Sims 4‘s Steam Pricing History

When The Sims 4 finally arrived on Steam in June 2019, it used the standard $39.99 pricing. But Steam sales drove the price down further at record speeds:

September 2019 – 50% off, $19.99

October 2019 – 55% off, $17.99

November 2019 – 50% off, $19.99

For over 2 years, The Sims 4 consistently hit $5 lows during Steam sales. But in 2022, the discounts became smaller:

June 2022 Steam Sale – 30% off, $27.99

September 2022 Steam Sale – 50% off, $19.99

This set the stage for the October 18, 2022 free-to-play announcement. EA began winding down discounts in anticipation of removing the upfront charge entirely.

Have Sims 4 DLC Prices Increased Over Time?

  • Base Game: $59.99 → $39.99
  • Expansion Packs: $39.99 (No change)
  • Stuff Packs: $19.99 → $9.99 – $12.99
  • Game Packs: Introduced at $19.99 – $24.99
  • Kits: Introduced at $4.99 – $9.99

Interestingly, only the base game has seen a direct price drop. Expansions remain at $39.99. But Stuff Packs are now segmented into lower-priced kits.

Average Prices for Each DLC Type:

DLC Type Average Price
Expansions $39.99
Game Packs $19.99
Stuff Packs $14.99
Kits $6.99

Smaller DLC is more affordable by breaking into Game Packs, Stuff Packs and Kits. But flagship expansions stay premium.

How Much Does Every Sims 4 DLC Cost?

As of October 2022, here‘s the cost breakdown for all Sims 4 DLC packs:

  • 10 Expansion Packs: $399.90
  • 6 Game Packs: $119.94
  • 18 Stuff Packs: $269.82
  • 23 Kits: $160.75

Total Price for ALL DLC:

$950.41

That‘s ~$1000 worth of DLC! And with new content releasing frequently, this total will continue rising.

Let‘s compare the all-time DLC costs across every core Sims game:

Game Total DLC Price
The Sims $460
The Sims 2 $680
The Sims 3 $935
The Sims 4 $950

The Sims 4 edges out The Sims 3 for most costly DLC catalog!

How Is The Sims 4 Monetized Now?

With no base game cost, how does The Sims 4 make money after going free-to-play?

  • DLC Sales – Expansions, Game Packs, Stuff Packs, Kits
  • In-Game Store – Real money converts into SimPoints
  • Advertising & Brand Promotions – In-game product placement

DLC remains the primary money maker. The Store taps into players who don‘t want to wait to unlock items. Brand partnerships also generate revenue.

Will these sources be enough? EA seems confident the free shift will actually grow their player base and motivated spenders.

But one thing is certain – you can now enjoy hundreds of hours in The Sims 4 without spending a dime!