We all know The Sims. It may have been your first ever introduction to the simulation genre. But, what would happen if a challenger came along? Would you play it? We spoke to one potential contender this weekend at PAX Aus 2018.
Where this conversation all started
At PAX, Dez and I sat down for what probably was one of the most interesting discussions of the weekend. It all started with a simple press release and a trailer. The game, called Habs promises to bring to life all the cool things people love about The Sims and improve on that. The release said that they wanted to raise $3.5 million to get the game going.
So, no demo, one trailer and a very very ambitious funding goal.
Of course, we both came in a bit sceptical because the initial idea seemed too grand to go anywhere. Personally, I had many many questions myself: Why $3.5 million? Why dive so quickly into a Kickstarter? Is there a demo? Why another sim game? Why take on EA?
What the team really achieved that day was getting us talking about an idea. If it was a completely nonviable idea we would have dismissed it, forgotten and moved on. But, why? Why do something this big? Curiosity hooked us in so we booked in an interview.
However, after sitting down with Ray and Evie, a lot of these questions were answered.
Mind you, the “quick interview” wasn’t quick by any standard. It was at least 45 minutes long.
While you can read the press release, visit the website or watch the trailer, I think it’s better to describe in words exactly what the Revie Studio team is trying to create.
The gist that I got from it all is that they’re creating a competitor to The Sims. For the life of me, I cannot think of a similar competitor to The Sims (please tweet @gotogame if there is). On top of that, The Sims franchise has been going on since The Sims was first released in 2000. The Sims 4 was first released in 2014. So far, only rumours exist about The Sims 5.
But, why hasn’t there been a competitor to The Sims? An industry or genre is never great when no competition exists. Competition motivates companies to create better and better products. What the Revie Studios team aims to do with Habs is create a life simulation game that won’t just be as fun as The Sims but will fill in a lot of the holes that the most recent Sims games have left. They’re keen on hearing what fans want to see because they themselves are fans of life sims.
“I wanna get more advice and other ideas that other people have. I feel like we can actually give things–things that people want.”
Where is the player base coming from?
One of the questions I had that I’m glad was answered was where they’d be finding backers for this project in addition to finding new players for their game if it does come to fruition. Here are some snippets from Ray that answered this question:
“[From Ray’s conversation with the ANZ community manager of Kickstarter] She goes, “Do you have a community?” I went, “Oh yeah.” She goes, “Have you built it up?” I said, “We don’t need to build it up. We just need to adopt an existing community.” You know, there’s 16 million Facebook followers of The Sims. So, we know there’s a huge community there.”
“It’s not as if we’re trying to build a market from nothing. There is a market. It’s big. It’s incredibly loyal. And, from what I’ve read–and I’m not a gamer–but when I read these boards, they’re manic and they’re really passionate.”
Discussing the boldness of this project
Of course, $3.5 million is no laughing matter. Ray told us from his conversation with the ANZ community manager of Kickstarter that the biggest project they’ve seen funded was $300,000. Going for a $1 million would’ve easily surpassed this last figure yet they want to more than triple even that.
“It’s Mount Everest. We don’t dispute that. The market’s really really big. I don’t think we’re poking into thin air. There is a real need and a real demand there.”
Fortunately, from our conversation, we found out that the funding figure isn’t just pulled out of thin air. The team has been talking to a few game development studios in Melbourne to essentially get a quote for how long and how much a game like Habs would take to make. If the Kickstarter project is successful and the dev teams jump on board immediately, it’s possible for Habs to be out by the end of 2019 (if all goes well).
“It’s so audacious, it might actually work,” is what Ray says Gregor Wiley (from AIE) told him about the project after discussing it.
The potential for jobs and an Aussie product
It’s not often that a gaming project of this size (or ambition) comes out of Australia. Australia isn’t exactly known for its games save for Fruit Ninja (Halfbrick), L.A. Noire (Team Bondi) and Real Racing (Firemint, now Firemonkey since being acquired by EA). Mind you, there’s no reason why Australia shouldn’t be known globally for its amazing games.
The Revie Studio team is adamant on developing Habs locally. This is what Ray had to say:
“We got asked just before, “Would we outsource these games elsewhere?” and I went, “Absolutely not.” Every job we want to create, we want to create here in Australia. It’s highly likely it’ll come to Melbourne unless there’s a Sydney studio. We’ve been doing more of our collaboration with Melbourne-based resources because the government supports the industry here… We’re talking about a team of potentially 55-60 people that will be engaged.”
Bold projects like Habs show us that there are people here in Australia who don’t just want to make games but want to make great games.
How we felt after the chat
By the end of our chat, I honestly found myself cheering the whole idea on. What eggs you on is either the Aussie guts involved or the thought you and your friends have had many times of: “Imagine a game like…”. Plus, who doesn’t love an underdog story?
The ability to create games isn’t (and shouldn’t be) limited to those in the industry already. The need and want to create a game is something a lot of gamers (I like to think) will relate with. Especially when what drives a gamer’s imagination is the potential for an even better game than the one they’re already playing.
After talking to the team, I can definitely imagine a lot more of what a life simulation game should be: community and player-driven, an improvement on past titles, etc. Not to mention, the joy of games is seeing your imagination come alive on a screen.
It’s all starting today!
If you wanna check out the Kickstarter for yourself, it started today. By all means, look at the pitch, analyse the idea, break it all down and if you see merit there, consider backing it. If not, then the Revie Studio team wants to hear from you: What should this game look like? How should this game play? Is there something you always wanted in a life sim game but couldn’t get?
“We ended up at that point that said well, we either do the Kickstarter or take our big bags and go home.”
“We’ve only arrived at this point because it’s the only point we have left. If we have to do this, let’s look at everything. Let’s look at the best strategy we can approach. Let’s look at how we can best do this and look honest and try and make people feel not afraid.”