Many Sims fans were upset when they learned that pools and toddlers, features that have been included since the first and second games respectively, will not be incorporated in the base game of The Sims 4. Standard features that were cut in order to be sold piecemeal in upcoming expansions? Fans had every right to question this decision.
Sims producer Graham Nardone answered just such a question in the Mod the Sims boards. A forum user asked how items like trams and cupcake machines could take precedence over pools and toddler, to which Nardone replied:
You can’t weigh features by how much you want them in the game, you have to consider how many development resources it takes to create them. The tram? A couple of days from one of our FX guys and it’s finished… very low risk, very low complexity (using entirely existing tech), and adds a nice visual punch to the neighborhood. I can’t recall ever scoping against FX… they always have time to be adding more stuff.
Our FX folks submitted their own long list of things they wanted to work on because there wasn’t enough for them to do. Now, you can’t take the FX team and ask them to add pools to the game. They don’t have the work skills to do it; neither do I. Pools, toddlers… they’re extremely complex features that require months of man hours of work across multiple disciplines and introduce significant risk.
If we were to have added one of those to the game, there would have been two choices for us… cut many small features, or cut one other significantly large feature.
Nardone further explained the realities of game development and the need for sacrifices to be made, which seems well and good, although I doubt his response will do much to appease angered fans. They way fans understand the situation, these were core features that have been around almost since the beginning, not some extra window dressing introduced in an expansion. The fact that Maxis and EA are removing those features in order to sell at a later date via expansion means that pools aren't really being cut out of development. Instead, they are being monetized when once they were included at no extra cost.
After last year's SimCity, Maxis is probably not happy to be caught in another PR storm. There's bound to be plenty more backlash before and even after The Sims 4 is released for Windows on September 2.