You know as companies have gotten used to the internet with regards to games, the features in games for the internet have gotten progressively crappy. In the late 90s and even into the early 00s it was fairly standard to provide free content for the game on the website. This kept players coming back to the website on a regular basis so that not only were you keeping interest of your game up, but you could also advertise new products and expansions to them.
Of note on these types of games was Petz & the various Sims games. Petz seems weird to point out as it has turned into a serious of cheap games, but in the 90s when it first started before any real company bought it, it was a fairly nice little PC toy to play with… you could go to the site to download free toys and breeds for your pet and they generally had 1 new one per month. This really helped the longevity of the game, but it also made you feel like you got your money’s worth from it and made me at least more prone to buying future versions. Now if you go to their website, you can download free wallpapers and screenshots! WOW! This doesn’t at all make me want to buy the game.
Sims is kind of a different position. Obviously they too have switched their stances on this subject at one point in time. You go to Sims 2’s website and you see that they used to offer free items from time to time, usually corresponding with holidays. But they haven’t really offered any new free download in nearly a year and even those downloads were weak at best (some odd car themed stuff and advertisements for Ford). You tend to see a similar thing happen over at Simcity 4’s website where you could at one time count on free landmarks to download but not for a very long time. Now the specialness of this case is that Sims has really been the only sims product to launch iin a very long time. Simcity 4 is older than sims 2, and hasn’t had an expansion in years and can be considered a dead product. Simcity societies is a worthless product and a waste of money if you buy it. And that’s pretty much it with those games. Though sims has been continually going, I think they are reaching the end of 2’s cycle as reports of 3 become more prevelant… and it is also popular. So it isn’t surprsing that largely dead games are not getting updates, and Sims has decided to go with making you pay for stuff packs instead of getting anything for free and is so popular on its own that it doesn’t need the help of downloads to keep the franchise going. Still Sims 1 did have free nearly monthly downloads for people to enjoy. What makes this particularly bad is that EA/Maxis actually wanted to make the sims 2 website more central to the sims community by offering an exchange. But because they didn’t want to be sued they kept it to people & lots, no custom objects to be had in the exchange and thus if anything EA has just further solidified The Sims Resource as the central destination to go to exchange… This is really where they could have used the free objects to bring people in and use the website but I have a feeling they decided the website cost too much money at some point.
Free stuff I realize has come and gone. At one point it seems companies were able to make money, or at least not losing money on these downloads… now they are all about charging you for what used to come for free. I realize it is a sign of changing times and I should be happy I get anything for free from a big company. But I can’t help but feel sad that this aspect has changed so harshly.