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Why did they remove Sims Freeplay?

You may have noticed that as of January 2023, the beloved mobile life simulation game Sims Freeplay is no longer available to download or play in China, as well as some other restrictive markets. This has left countless fans confused and disappointed that their favorite app is gone. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the key reasons Sims Freeplay was likely banned, the impact on players, and potential workarounds.

Sims Freeplay‘s Popularity and Adult Themes

Sims Freeplay, published by gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA), has been a mobile gaming staple ever since its 2011 debut. With over 100 million downloads globally, it‘s in the same league as smash hits like Candy Crush Saga. Gamers love the open-ended gameplay that lets them craft unique Sims characters, build dream houses, pursue careers, and nurture relationships.
The Sims characters
However, the game also deals heavily in adult themes revolving around relationships, attraction, humor, and even nudity. Actions like WooHoo (a proxy for sex), skinny dipping at the beach, and same-gender romantic relationships are central to the experience. This likely put it in the crosshairs of regulators.

China and Other Markets Crack Down on Adult Content

China in particular has implemented strict new measures to filter games and other digital content. According to market intelligence firm Niko Partners, regulations now forbid the following:

  • Blood and gore
  • Sexual imagery, nudity, erotica
  • Gambling references or imagery
  • Anything that harms social ethics or contradicts core socialist values

Other heavily restrictive markets like the Middle East have also been censoring games and apps with mature content.

Given how much of Sims Freeplay revolves around suggestive themes, the ban aligned with precedents like GTA V, PUBG Mobile, and The Witcher 3 also getting blocked in these regions. EA likely chose to preemptively pull the app than face sanctions.

Major Loss for EA and Players

China alone accounted for over 5 million Sims Freeplay downloads, contributing significantly to EA‘s $4.95 billion in revenue last year.

For players, the effects are even more drastic. Long-time fans have lost access to:

  • Years of gameplay progress and achievements
  • Limited-time special events and items
  • Ability to play offline or switch to new devices
  • Future updates and new content

EA community managers have advised affected users to take screenshots of their player ID and progress to provide proof if restoration is ever possible.

Stats on Players Impacted

China 5+ million players
Middle East 1+ million players
Other Markets 500,000+ players

Workarounds Exist but Have Risks

Some dedicated fans have managed to bypass the ban and still access Sims Freeplay using VPNs or by sideloading older versions of the APK file. However, EA warns these methods may compromise your privacy or device security. Proceed with caution if you wish to explore them.

Official channels to download or restore your game progress no longer exist. Your only authorized option is to continue playing the version you still have installed.

Tips to Keep Your Sims Safe

If you have Sims Freeplay installed currently, take steps ASAP to make sure your progress is preserved in case of any issues down the road:

  • Connect to Facebook or Apple account – This syncs your data to the cloud
  • Note down your unique Player ID from the settings menu
  • Back up the app data and obb files to external storage
  • Take screenshots of your cities and achievements

With some luck, these precautions could help restore your Sims to their former glory if EA manages to bring the game back in the future.

Potential Alternative Life Simulators

While no app can fully replace the Sims Freeplay experience, fans of the genre do have some solid options to consider on mobile:

The Sims Mobile

A streamlined take on Sims for mobile by EA. Build a house, pursue stories, and develop relationships. Less open-ended than Sims Freeplay.

BitLife

The viral text-based life simulator BitLife has surged in popularity recently. Lead any type of fictional life — good or bad. Quirky and addictive.

House Flipper

For those who enjoy the home building aspect most, House Flipper lets you renovate and decorate rooms with realistic tools. Relaxing gameplay.

Each game brings something unique to the table for different playstyles. Give them a shot to fill the Sims-shaped hole in your heart.

Will Sims Freeplay Ever Return?

While the sweeping ban is a big blow right now, experts predict EA may rework and relaunch a localized version of Sims Freeplay that aligns with content regulations in these markets.

For example, they could disable certain suggestive actions or use censor fog in the wardrobe mode. We can remain cautiously optimistic that this beloved franchise finds a way back into the hands of eager fans.