If you'd put money on The Sims 5 being free-to-play at launch, you can cash out your winnings now and go put them in a secure location so you can buy all the inevitable DLC in its wake. According to an EA job posting spotted by Sims Community, the next Sims will be a "free-to-enter game."
The Head of Marketplace and Monetization job posting has since been pulled from EA's job portal but was specific to the next major Sims game, currently codenamed Project Rene. Two of the role's primary responsibilities were listed as "Own Project Rene's in-game marketplace of content and UGC (free and paid)" and also "Own pricing of all content in this free-to-enter game." From those two bullets, we can draw a couple of reasonable conclusions for The Sims 5:
- The base game will likely be free to own, meaning continued reliance on DLC like expansions, game packs, and kits.
- EA is expecting some "ugc" (user-generated content) to be paid for, meaning they are likely planning to let modders and CC creators sell creations to others and take a cut of profit.
Neither of those details are too surprising. The Sims 4 base game has been free since last year. Though that change was made after nine years, it's not a big leap to imagine The Sims 5 starting out free to download and relying on EA's consistent schedule of DLC for revenue. It could also imply that EA plans to offer a free pared-down version of the base game but sell the complete version. That's essentially how Sims players already view the current Sims 4 base game and its fundamental DLCs like Seasons and Pets though—tomato, tomahto.
The deleted job listing's reference to an in-game marketplace that includes free and paid content created by other players is an expected leap too. The Sims series has a long history of custom content and a dicey relationship between modders seeking compensation and the game's Terms of Service. That grey area of paid modding lives largely on Patreon right now where EA doesn't have reliable oversight and doesn't get a cut. I can't imagine EA cracking down on modding at large, but there's no doubt it sees the appeal in enticing creators onto an in-game platform where it can impose moderation and fees for the convenience.
EA also hosted a Behind the Sims Summit this week, giving a behind the scenes look at developing the upcoming Sims 4 Horse Ranch expansion and talking briefly about The Sims 5 prototyping phase.