The Sims 4 was advertised as being a live service from the moment it was released back in September 2014. This means that it is designed to be receiving new content regularly through DLC and game updates.
EA and Maxis have certainly been true to this with endless DLC packs and new game features being added into the game from pools to toddlers. Even almost eight years on, the updates are continuing with the recent addition of Neighbourhood Stories.
One thing that has also been part of this is The Sims 4’s main menu which is the first thing you see once you load up the game. As of the end of April 2022, it has been updated once again with a “fresh new look”. This sounds all well and good perhaps, though it has been through so many “fresh new looks” that it feels as if the main menu is changing on a yearly basis.
What I want to know is one simple thing – why? Why has the user interface of the main menu been so poorly designed that the team feel like it needs to be updated again, and again, and again – to the stage where we get a news flash to celebrate it has a new look – particularly when there are so many features people have been pleading for and when so many bugs exist in The Sims 4 (particularly with the broken My Wedding Stories game pack).
Whilst we may never know why Maxis are addicted to updating the main menu for the game, particularly when the main menu never dramatically changed in previous iterations of the franchise.
One thing we can do is take a look back at all of the iterations of The Sims 4’s main menu since it’s launch to see how it has evolved time and time again.
The Sims 4 has been officially launched and sported a very simple and clean main menu. It features video clips of Sims in different situations and expressing different emotions.
This was perhaps too simplistic and I can see why the team felt the need to update from this particular iteration.
Around the time Get to Work launched, which was the first expansion pack for The Sims 4, the main menu was updated for the first time.
The main menu featured a large animated render for the latest pack that you had installed, latest news and information which would link you to the official Sims website, clearer buttons to play or create a new game, and an area to view the packs you had installed.
This was certainly an improvement on the original and felt much easier to use and less bare bones.
Shortly after The Sims 4 Vampires Game Pack was released, and the number of packs for The Sims 4 were starting to grow, it was time for another fresh coat of paint on the main menu.
This menu introduces a new sidebar which focused on showcasing all of the packs a user owned in an easy glimpse as well as quickly start or load a game. The animated render and information boxes remained.
As time went on, this menu did start to look extremely cluttered with more expansions, game packs, and stuff packs releasing.
The Sims 4 received the rebrand treatment with new graphics, colours, icons, and more. The plumbob even got a fresh coat of paint! This led to another big change to the main menu, and this time it was one of the most dramatic changes to date as it incorporated all of the changes to The Sims 4 branding.
New logos for The Sims 4 and all of the packs were featured, as well as the sidebar disappearing and being replaced by a panel at the bottom of the screen. This provided more room for icons to be displayed as The Sims 4’s DLC continued to grow.
You’d think we had been through enough in 2020 with the pandemic but Maxis managed to squeeze in another main menu redesign, this one being perhaps the most dramatic to date.
This iteration of the main menu saw the return of the sidebar to host the UI elements to play the game, view the gallery, or configure the game options. The left side had a “home” space to showcase everything going on in the community such as new releases.
This menu also brought a new way to view all of the packs you owned, or could own, with The Sims 4 with the “Packs” tab. This would take the menu into a separate area and let you easily browse through everything as the content lineup continued to grow.
At long last, we’re at the end of the journey… for now at least… with the latest iteration of The Sims 4 main menu.
The sidebar has once again been updated with clearer menu items and, for the first time, the massive “play” icon has been removed. Instead you are greeted by various options to resume or start your game, including a tooltip with a hint/message relating to your last played game.
The Sims 4 logo has also been reduced in size, though the remainder of the menu remains very similar with it sporting all of the latest news and community items for The Sims 4.
The end… or is it?
It seems the main menu has been the one thing that has evolved the most throughout The Sims 4’s lifecycle. Will the latest iteration be the one to see it through to the end of its development, or will we see another one in the future?
It’s hard to tell with The Sims 4 already being the longest running iteration of The Sims franchise. Who knows what Maxis have up their sleeves!
Do you have a favourite iteration of The Sims 4’s main menu? Let us know in the comments or on social media!