Good news, bad news: It's been eight years since The Sims 4 hit consoles and PCs -- the most prolonged hiatus between games in the franchise's history. The good news is Maxis just revealed Project Rene, the next iteration in the series. The bad news is that it is in very early development, and we're not going to see a finished game for several more years.

On Tuesday, Maxis confirmed it is actively developing The Sims 5. Codenamed Project Rene, the game is in the early development stages. However, Maxis has enough of it working that it was able to demonstrate collaborative gameplay at The Sims Summit 2022 (below).

Vice President of Franchise Creative Lyndsay Pearson said the team is working on evolving the way that Sims (the little simulated people that live in your computer screen) "think" and "act" in the game.

The creation tools seem to be a bit more flexible, with players able to quickly cycle through different options within the space they are building. For instance, players can scroll through fabric patterns for a couch and see how they look in the room without ever leaving the builder.

Maxis also wants to emphasize multiplayer collaboration. Pearson made it clear in her presentation that collaborating and creating with friends is entirely optional. However, she said one primary focus was to create a seamless cross-platform experience for multiple players to enjoy. She demonstrated this by showing two instances of the game — one running on a PC and the other on a smartphone. Placing furniture on one replicates it on the other instantly.

Also read: The Sims: 22 Years and Counting

Project Rene is not the first time Maxis has toyed with a multiplayer Sims game. The free-to-play Sims Mobile mixed in limited multiplayer elements like attending another player's party. However, the game wasn't enthusiastically received because of its "purchase-dependant" microtransactional model. Players were forced to either buy energy packs to continue playing or wait hours for their energy bar to fill gradually. So the game never really gained the traction that the standard iterations did.

The developer didn't have much more to share since the game is still in early development. However, the team will have regular updates on Project Rene's progress and milestones.

"We'll have much more to share as we continue to progress on the game's development and milestones along the way," Pearson promised.

Don't start holding your breath yet, though. The final product is still "years" away. Even were it to come out tomorrow, the gap between The Sims 4 and Project Rene is the longest in the franchise's 22-year history.

Maxis launched the first Sims game in February 2000. The sequel arrived about four years later. Development of The Sims 3 (2009) and The Sims 4 (2014) each took five years. It has already been eight years since the last title in the franchise, and the developer just now started working on the next.

The long gap is likely because of The Sims 4's many expansions. While The Sims 1-3 had seven, eight, and 11 expansion DLCs, respectively, while The Sims 4 had a whopping 24 add-ons. Those numbers don't even include the smaller "Stuff Packs."

And thank goodness for all those expansions. Fans might have quite a wait to get their hands on The Sims 5, but if they haven't revisited The Sims 4 in a while, there are several decent content expansions to extend the fun of the game for some time.