The Sims series isn’t one most gamers would expect to have any continuity between main series entries. After all, the games are about players creating their own stories with their custom Sims, so having any kind of consistent plotline baked in largely seems extra and unnecessary. However, not only does The Sims have plenty of lore — it just rival The Legend of Zelda‘s notoriously convoluted timeline with how confusing it is.
Unlike the Zelda timeline, fans were actually the ones who pieced The Sims‘ timeline together by using context clues left throughout the various games. By looking at the chronology of in-game events, fans have been able to figure out the order in which The Sims games take place. While the way players pieced these together is pretty simple, looking deeper brings up some serious contradictions that make The Sims timeline incredibly confusing.
How Fans Pieced Together the Timeline of The Sims
Fans pieced together The Sims timeline by examining the various townie stories that have been sprinkled throughout the games. The Goth family’s story is of particular importance thanks to their influence throughout the world of The Sims. For example, it’s stated in The Sims 3 that Gunther Goth founded Sunset Valley after the Goth family moved from what’s only known as “Old Country” in-game. This puts The Sims 3 at the very start of the timeline.
There’s another set of details that help back up some of those storyline observations: the fact that some Sims appear as children in other games. Bob Newbie from the first game appears as a child in The Sims 3, providing further evidence that that game is first in the series’ timeline. As for The Sims 2, fans were able to use Bella Goth’s alien abduction story fromThe Sims 2 to place that game after the events of the original. This makes The Sims 3 the earliest game in the series, followed by The Sims and The Sims 2.
The Sims 4 Is Set in an Alternate Universe
While previous games were somewhat straightforward, The Sims 4 makes things incredibly complicated. It breaks a ton of the assumptions made regarding the series’ chronology, indicating the game is set in another universe. Looking at the history of some notable families, the backstory for the Landgraab family differs greatly from previous games. For example, instead of moving to Sunset Valley as they did in The Sims 3, the family is mentioned to have explicitly left to move to Oasis Springs.
The biggest detail supporting the theory that The Sims 4 is set in an alternate universe is the fact that Bella Goth was never abducted by aliens. While Bella Goth disappeared after the events of The Sims and is revealed to have been abducted by aliens in The Sims 2, none of that seems to have happened to the Bella Goth featured in The Sims 4. The developer have even confirmed The Sims 4 takes place in an alternate timeline, with a producer telling fans on Twitter around when the game launched that this was “the most flexible way” to bring back fan-favorite Sims.
Technology Goes Backwards in The Sims
Even with The Sims 4 being separate from the canon of the other games, there are still a ton of questions with how the first three games fall on the timeline. For example, The Sims 3 taking place first in the timeline implies that modern technology like smartphones vanished before the events of The Sims. While this makes sense on some level considering when the games were released, it creates some odd timeline questions.
Technology in the world of The Sims would have effectively had to go backwards between the events of The Sims 3 and The Sims to explain why the world went from having smartphones to relying on landlines. One possible explanation is that The Sims 3 update that added smartphones, which released alongside the Showtime expansion, happens later on in the timeline. However, placing each expansion pack on the timeline separate from the base games only further complicates what’s already a wild and confusing timeline.