Like many people, I have fond memories of being addicted to The Sims. My game of choice was The Sims 2, but I also dabbled in The Sims 3 for a time. Somehow, I kicked the habit before The Sims 4 dropped back in 2014, and haven’t played much of the franchise since. It seems EA might have pulled me back in, though, as The Sims 4 is now permanently free to play.
EA announced the news last month, proclaiming they’d make the most recent entry in their Sims catalog totally free as of this past Tuesday. This isn’t a trial: You can download and play the base game without spending a dime. It’s a nice, if not shocking, development; Sims fans blasted the game before launch, as it was missing content found in previous entries, and while downloadable content added plenty of features old and new, some felt the base game was never worth the full price. In a way, The Sims 4 was made to be a free game, with the option to add on via expansion and game packs.
Of course, some of us have paid for The Sims 4 already, and EA doesn’t want to leave you hanging out to dry. If you’re an EA Play or EA Play Pro member, you’ll receive special upgrades for The Sims 4. The EA Play Edition of the game features the Get to Work Expansion Pack, while the EA Play Pro Edition features both it and the Toddler Stuff Pack as well.
To be clear, this is the base game of The Sims 4. While that’s enough Sims to get you up and running, you’ll only experience a slice of what EA has to offer. True to The Sims’ formula, EA developed expansion packs to supplement gameplay with additional furniture, clothes, pets, situations, storylines, weather, and much more. Expansion packs include:
- Cats & Dogs
- City Living
- Cottage Living
- Discover University
- Eco Lifestyle
- Get Famous
- Get Together
- Get to Work
- High School Years
- Island Living
- Snowy Escape
There are also twelve game packs, which are more incremental upgrades to your game when compared to expansion packs:
- Dine Out
- Dream Home Decorator
- Jungle Adventure
- My Wedding Stories
- Outdoor Retreat
- Realm of Magic
- Spa Day
- Star Wars: Journey to Batuu
By opening The Sims 4 to everyone for free, EA will earn itself a pool of potential customers for these expansion and game packs (ah, there’s that other shoe). Sure, you might never intend to spend a dime on the game, but maybe you want to see the seasons while you play, or add restaurants to your experience, or send your sim to high school. All of a sudden, you’re hundreds of dollars (and hours) deep. Classic Sims.
How to download and play The Sims 4 for free
Chances are, you own something that can play The Sims 4. The game is available on PC, Mac, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
On PlayStation and Xbox, downloading the game is obvious. You’ll find the title in both the PlayStation Store and Xbox Store available to download for free. On desktop, however, it’s a little different.
On both Mac and PC, head to EA’s website for The Sims 4 here. Hover your cursor over the blue “Play for Free” button in the top right, then choose either “EA app for Windows,” “Origin for Mac,” or “Steam.” If you choose one of the first two options, you’ll need to scroll down, click on the appropriate link for your computer (The EA app for Windows and Origin for Mac), then install and open the program.
At this time, The Sims 4 on Steam is only available for Windows. You can play The Sims 4 directly from Steam without needing to download the game first.