In brief: As it turns out, EA's decision to convert The Sims 4 into a free-to-play game last year indicated where the company intends to take the entire franchise. A leaked job listing details EA's planned monetization model for the next installment, which likely won't see full release for a long while.
Electronic Arts recently posted, then removed a job advertisement that described the next installment of The Sims as a free-to-enter game. The job description implies that the company will monetize the upcoming title primarily or entirely through microtransactions.
The opening is for a head of monetization and marketplace for Project Rene – the codename of the next major title in The Sims franchise. The primary responsibilities described involve managing a store full of free and paid content.
The Sims 4 began life in 2014 as a premium-priced game before EA made it free to download last October. In the game's nearly nine years on the market – the longest stretch between new entries in the franchise's 23-year history – it has racked up a sizable library of expansion packs that remain paid. The dozens of DLC items available for The Sims 4 collectively cost almost $800, and that's with steep Steam sale discounts. The job listing suggests EA was satisfied with the results of the shift and is planning more aggressive monetization for the sequel.
A recent livestream also offered an early look into Project Rene's development. The company displayed prototypes of the game's art pipeline, animation system, and socialization elements, which are poised for a significant overhaul over The Sims 4.
When EA initially announced Project Rene last October, it said it wanted to make a collaborative multiplayer experience that works seamlessly across consoles, PC, and mobile. In a demonstration, changes made in one version were immediately updated on the other.
Project Rene wouldn't be EA's first attempt at launching a multiplayer free-to-play version of The Sims. The Sims Mobile faced harsh criticism for its energy pack-based monetization, so it's safe to assume the upcoming entry won't utilize that system. Series fans should also note that the title won't see a release anytime soon, so the design elements the job description referenced could certainly change.