As 400-something odd lurkers may remember, a little under a year ago I wrote an essay where I theorized about the Sims 5 development team and timeline and posted it onto this forum. It was originally intended as a video essay in preparation for the 2020 EA Play Live event, but once the Sims Team announced that no new Sims content would be unveiled I decided against the video portion. Here's a to the document if you're interested in reading it.
My lurking on LinkedIn and Maxis job postings only really helped me get a general idea of who was working on this new installment in the franchise, information that hasn't yet been revealed by Maxis or EA, but I wasn't able to reach anything too conclusive. Whether the game will be more like Project Olympus or more like the Sims 3 was a question I was unfortunately unable to answer, although I did get definitive proof that there would be at least some online features similar to Project Olympus/The Gallery (page 14). Now that it's been almost a year since I did all my research and with an upcoming EA Play Live event rumored to announce the new installment, I thought that it may be a good time to reflect on my findings and see if anything has changed.
After browsing LinkedIn as well as new Maxis job postings, I have a few conclusions I'd like to make. Firstly, it seems that the Austin Maxis location is not just focusing on their new IP, but rather also developing content for the Sims. A new Gameplay Engineer listing for the Sims has it's location set to both Austin and Redwood Springs. Interestingly, it is the only job posting specifically for the Sims Team that includes both offices. Whether this is a pandemic influenced decision or not, it is the first direct suggestion I've seen that the Austin location isn't solely devoted to the new IP. Also, more references are made to the use of the Unreal Engine in an unnamed project.
While reviewing the LinkedIn pages of those I wrote about in the essay, I made the shocking discovery that left the Sims team earlier this month. Whether this is a brief stint away from the development of the franchise just like the one he made in 2012, he will undoubtedly be missed as he was an integral part of the development team for the Sims 3, the Sims Medieval, and the Sims 4. Besides his departure from Maxis, Holmberg-Wielder also was involved in creating another prototype for Maxis in the past year. If you read my essay, you'll see that in January of 2017 he lead a 30+ person team in the creation of a prototype that I assumed to be the Sims 5. Well, from November 2019 to September 2020 it seems he worked on once again another prototype for the company, this time with a smaller team and in the Unity engine.
This has a few possible implications towards the development of the Sims 5, one being that it's development will mirror the Sims 4 in that they went through multiple iterations over the course of the past few years, suggesting that they aren't as far into development of the final product like we hoped. It also might mean that Maxis, whether its the Redwood Shores or Austin location, is in the process of another game on top of the Sims 5 and the unannounced IP. Interestingly, this new project he worked was originally created as a "paper prototype", a type of prototype often used in simple 2D games or mobile games.
Lastly, almost everyone I mentioned in the essay as being a part of the Sims 5 development team has remained in their same Maxis job position as they were a year ago. Lead SimGurus like Graham and Dave haven't worked on any new Sims 4 content in the last year if their LinkedIns are to be trusted, and I wasn't able to find too many new members of the Maxis team. While scouring LinkedIn for Maxis employees I was able to find a few new references to an Unannounced IP, a few instances where someone referred to their current project as the "Sims franchise" rather than the "Sims 4", and new team members that don't specify what projects their are currently working on.
I wish I could say that I found tons of new evidence in favor of the Sims 5, but that simply isn't the case. If it truly is deep in development, Maxis has done a good job of keeping things mostly under the radar in the past year. If you made it this far, litzergam! I hope that this read was at least a little enjoyable, and if you can make any theories based on my findings I would love to hear them!