My Favourite Free, Online, and Paid Life Simulation Games Like The Sims
There are plenty of games like The Sims available for fans of the series. Most of these games are even available for free or can be played online. I hope you enjoy my personal selection of life simulation games.
The Sims is a well known life simulation game series published by Electronic Arts (EA) and it is often considered the best game of its genre. The Sims is also one of the most successful video game franchises ever.
The games and websites available on this page are a mixture of free, paid, and online. Thus, there should be an option to suit everyone's requirements. If you know of one that isn't included, then please let us know in the comment section.
I've put together this list over the course of several years. Both my sister and partner fell in love with The Sims series very early on and are always asking me if I can recommend them something similar to play. I created (and update) this page to keep them all in one place. I hope you also find it a useful resource.
What Do You Enjoy Most About The Sims?
A free online social game for older players, IMVU is a website where members use 3D avatars to chat, meet people, and play games. IMVU has over 52 million registered users and features one of the largest virtual goods stores. The game is definitely for older gamers though.
The basic version of IMVU is free to play but users can gain extra benefits by paying real money to get credits. IMVU will appeal to Sims fans who enjoy the social aspect of the game series.
IMVU also has a big focus on member driven and developed content. Members are able to create, design, and even sell virtual products in the IMVU product catalogue.
IMVU has millions of members and is extremely easy to get started playing. With all of the customisation options available, it definitely rivals what The Sims but definitely is for an older audience.
2. Second Life
A free game where The Sims meets MMO, Second Life is combines deep avatar customisation and endless creation in a massively multiplayer online game that you can explore for free. If you love creating your own personalised characters and the world around them, then Second Life will definitely appeal to you.
Second Life was launched in 2003 and allows players to interact with each other through avatars and participate in individual and group activities. The game has evolved over the years and remains one of the top free-to-play virtual worlds around, with tens of millions of accounts.
During peak times you'll find around 50,000 people online so there are always new experiences to be had in this massively multiplayer virtual world.
As a player (known as a Resident) of Second Life, you are free to explore the world and can even create and trade virtual property or services. For the creatively minded, there is truly no end to your Second Life experience and you can access all of it for free.
3. My Sunny Resort
Build a dream resort and manage your guests while playing My Sunny Resort, another free game that is playable completely in your browser.
In the game you are tasked with designing your dream resort, hiring staff, and also managing your guests. It has many Sims-like elements, such as the way that players can customise each individual guest room with pieces of furniture. This requires some strategy to ensure that you stay within budget.
The way that you interact with guests also feels like something out of The Sims gameplay, as guests have their own needs that you'll have to fulfil by building activities and restaurants to extract maximum value from their holiday budgets.
My Sunny Resort is a fun mixture of management and building rolled into one game. If you want something Sims-esque for your browser, this game from Upjers is a great choice.
My Sunny Resort Gameplay
4. Lady Popular
A fashion focused game experience, Lady Popular is a great browser-based alternative for gamers who love the fashion and customisation that The Sims series offers. In this game you'll create a character with the goal of becoming famous in the fashion industry.
You can heavily customise your virtual avatar, their apartment, and stats as you battle against other players to become the fashion queen with the highest style points. There is so much to customise in Lady Popular, that it is easy to get lost in the depth of the game as you buy clothing, pets, furniture, and other visual improvements.
This is one that fans of fashion will feel at home with as the large range of items, styles, and avatar options never gets old.
5. The Movies
A mixture of The Sims and a tycoon game, The Movies mixes tycoon and simulation. It is a business simulation game available for both PC and Mac which puts the player in the role of a Hollywood tycoon in charge of their own movie studio.
You will go about creating movies, building the sets, and managing the staff (actors, directors, writers, and many others). The game has one expansion pack available, The Movies: Stunts and Effects which adds many features including stunt doubles and more effects.
The gameplay of The Movies is divided into three areas. The first is designing and building the movie studio, which is very similar to building a house in The Sims. Secondly, players must also manage and build the careers of movie stars, making sure they practice their lines, stay on good terms with the paparazzi, and avoid going into rehab. The final gameplay aspect (the one that I had the most fun with) allows the player to create and make their own movies using a simplified version of Windows Movie Maker with effects and stock footage. Players are also allowed to add voice, text, and music soundtracks to their movies and even share them with friends or other players.
The game starts at the birth of cinema and slowly moves forward in time, offering players better technology while also shifting the type of movie that the public want to see. An award ceremony is hosted every five game years.
The game also features a sandbox mode in which players have bigger budgets and can focus on creating movies in stead of the management required in the story game mode. The Movies is definitely my top pick although I'm slightly biased as I have always enjoyed tycoon games. My favourite aspect is definitely creating my own movies and sharing them with others.
The Movies: Half Simulation Game & Half Tycoon Game
The Movies (PC) Review
6. Virtual Families: A Casual Game
Virtual Families is a great casual game and offers players the ability to control the life, career, and relations of particular person. Virtual Families has two unique game features: It is played in real time and the game focuses on you building up a successful family only to pass it on to the next.
Virtual families offers an interesting and unique illness system that puts you in the doctors seat, provides hidden puzzles to solve, over a hundred trophies to collect, and even day/night cycles that will match your location. Virtual Families also has low system requirements making it great for laptops and older computers.
There is a demo of the game available on their official site and a full game guide released by the creators. Virtual Families was also the Winner of the Silver Mom's Choice Award for 2009. For a casual life simulation player like myself, Virtual Families to be a particularly attractive experience with many unique elements.
7. Animal Crossing (Series)
A game series like The Sims for Wii, Nintendo DS, and Gamecube, Animal Crossing is a fun life-simulation and role playing series. It was originally developed for the Nintendo Gamecube but is now available across a large number of platforms. Animal Crossing is very open-ended and gives the player lots of freedom as to which goals and objectives they wish to chase.
Players control a village populated with animals which with the player can interact at any time, or leave them to be controlled by the AI. One of the best features available in the game is the use of the internal clock and calendar allowing the game to be played in real-time, while also following seasons and holidays. Notable events include Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, fishing tournaments, and morning fitness classes.
The main goal of the game is for the player to increase the size of their house, allowing more furniture and items to be acquired during the game. Houses can be further customised through wallpaper, flooring, roof colour, and even music.
Animal Crossing is rated highly among critics, receiving a score of 87/100 from Metacritic and the title of 'Fifth Best Gamecube Game' by Screwattack. It has since continued its success on the Nintendo Wii and DS.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
Animal Crossing 3DS: Official Trailer (E3 2011)
8. Virtual Villagers (Series)
Another great game by Last Day of Work, the creators of Virtual Families, Virtual Villagers puts the player in control of a village of survivors. Just like Virtual Families, this game runs in real-time so even when you aren't playing your villagers are working hard. There are currently five different games in the series with each game building on the story and gameplay of the previous installment.
Virtual Villagers definitely has The Sims feel to it with the main goal being to help the villagers grow and sruvive while exploring the island and solving various puzzles.
The art style and soundtrack are also great features of this game. Unfortunately due to the nature of the gameplay the game does lack some replay value.
9. Kudos 2
A great casual life game, Kudos 2 is packed with features and manages to be full of depth and re-playability while remaining simple. Kudos 2 can be considered a light version of The Sims.
The game doesn't feature house building but instead focuses on character (sim) development. You get to control your character's day-to-day activities, social events, career path, relationships, and many other aspects all in a turn-based style of gameplay. You have plenty of time to think about your decisions and their impact (be it good or bad).
The game throws you into the life of a character that you design and you are given 10 years to go from waiter (or waitress) to anything you want to be.
You can either choose to focus heavily on your social life and build a massive collection of friends or focus entirely on your career. The game offers countless numbers and stats for you to analyse but these can also be ignored, making for a game that will appear to die-hard life simulation fans and casual gamers alike. With a simple but effective graphic style and a demo version available to try, Kudos 2 provides an overall fun game experience.
If you are looking for a game that focuses entirely on sim management, then you will not be disappointed with Kudos 2. I love my statistics and I am definitely a min/max gamer, so Kudos 2 suited my style perfectly.
Kudos 2 Review
10. Club Cooee
A free social-focused game, Club Cooee is an online world focused on fashion, shopping, and customising your avatar. Starting with nothing, players rise through the fashion ranks by competing against other players.
Winning requires you to improve your character stats by playing games and going shopping. This creates a fun cycle of purchasing new outfits for your avatar or furniture for your apartment. Win more fashion battles and earn more in game currency to spend for bigger and better items.
Club Cooee is playable for free within your Internet browser making it a great option if you are after a game that you can start playing instantly. There is a huge virtual world just waiting for you where you can make friends, chat to other players, and build your fashion status.
Club Cooee Promo Video
11. A Kingdom for Keflings
A Sims-like experience for Xbox, A Kingdom for Keflings has been available through the Xbox Live Arcade since 2008. The game also has a PC version available (link provided below).
The game places the player in the role of a giant in the land of Keflings (they are small human-like creatures). From here the player is required to help the Keflings create their kingdom by building structures and gathering various resources. The main purpose is to eventually create a castle for the king and queen Keflings, but the game never officially ends allowing players to expand their kingdom as much as they desire.
Players can either play as one of four different classes (each with varied starting stats) or use their own Xbox Live avatar. A Kingdom for Keflings does offer multi player which allows players to participate in a game together.
Purchase a Game Code for A Kingdom for Keflings
A Kingdom for Keflings Review
12. Harvest Moon (Series)
Combining farm and life simulation, Harvest Moon brings together life simulation aspects with good old fashioned farm management. It is definitely one of my all-time favourite game experiences and will appeal to fans of The Sims series.
While the gameplay varies, the main game mechanics involve developing your run-down farm and bringing it back to life by planting crops, trading with the villagers, exploring the game world, and collecting a variety of collectible items for achievements.
Some games in the Harvest Moon series also add livestock, fish, and even resource-gathering elements such as foraging for food, chopping down trees, or mining for ore.
My favourite game of the series (shown below) also happens to be the most recent release and is for the Nintendo 3DS. I had been anticipating this game for some time and had to beg my brother to let me borrow his 3DS, but it was well worth it.
My Favourite Harvest Moon Game: My Personal Recommendation
Harvest Moon Gameplay
From the creators of The Sims, Spore covers many game genres, allowing the player to control the evolution of a species from its microscopic beginnings to an intelligent species exploring the universe.
Spore has a massive depth of gameplay and is completely open-ended. It even allows users to share their creature creations online for other players to download and use to populate their worlds.
The game takes the player through five stages of evolution; cell, creature, tribal, civilisation, and space. At each stage players are allowed to fully customise everything in the game world related to their species, including creature presentation, decorations, buildings, cars, boats, planes, and spacecraft.
I enjoyed playing Spore because you get to watch as your tiny life form evolves into a galactic dominating race. The game also manages to be simple enough for a casual and creative audience that simply wants to focus on the creating aspects (which is what fans of The Sims will be looking for).
Spore: Another EA Game
14. The Sims Stories
Another game series that is great for laptops, The Sims Stories is very similar to the original games but I found it to be the perfect alternative for my sister, who needed a game for her laptop. (The Sims Stories are optimised for running on older computer systems and laptops).
The Sims Stories are great fun to play and are a great purchase if you are unable to play the original series due to the system requirements. Some gameplay elements also have a different twist to them so the experience isn't too similar.
The Sims Stories has three games available in the series: The Sims Life Stories, The Sims Pet Stories, and The Sims Castaway Stories.
So what can you expect from the series of games? You'll find mostly open-ended gameplay that also incorporates some scenarios which use alot of pre-scripted events to trigger life-altering action.
Think of the series as a streamlined version of the original series but definitely not less fun though.
The Sims Castaway Stories Trailer: My Personal Favourite Game in The Series
A game for consoles and great for younger gamers, MySims (also known as The Sims Wii or Nintendo Sims) is another addition to franchise that focuses on providing consoles users the ability to play game. They are essentially a streamlined version of the original series, focusing on building houses and collecting materials to complete various tasks.
The game features Mii like characters and a colourful world that is focused on appealing to a younger age group, as opposed to teenagers.
The story is very child-friendly and offers many customisation features (so expect to see a lot of pink houses in your daughter's world).
The MySims collection is a great gift for the younger generation of Sims players and I have bought multiple copies for younger cousins who still love and play them years later.
MySims Sky Heroes
MySims Game Trailer: See Just What Makes the Game so Attractive
16: Viva Piñata
A fun and bright simulation game with piñatas, Viva Piñata is another fun game. Originally developed for the Xbox 360 console, it is also available for Windows and the Nintendo DS (Viva PiÃ±ata: Pocket Paradise). Viva Piñata is a very family-friendly game making it a great alternative to The Sims for younger gamers.
The game starts out on a neglected plot of land where players are given the task of creating an attractive garden (and in turn attracting piñatas). Viva Piñata is completely open-ended, offering players the freedom and choice to do whatever they desire with their plot of land. The game does offer some objectives to guide players towards increasing their garden value (the main goal of the game).
Throughout the game players attract different types of piñatas which originally have no colour. Upon completing some added objectives the piñata becomes an official resident, changing into a full color version. From here the player can breed piñatas if they are able to attract two of the same species. Players can further customise piñatas to their liking with custom names, decorations, and unlockable accessories (including hats, teeth and backpacks).
Viva Piñata does include online functionality but to keep the game "children friendly" this feature is used simply for leader boards and sending presents between friends. If you have a young child who was a fan of the Sims series (or is a little too young to play it yet) then Viva Piñata is a great alternative.