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Recently departed Project Rene (a.k.a. The Sims 5) director is teaming up with former XCOM devs on another new rival life sim

Sims veteran Grant Rodiek has been recruited by newly-founded studio Midsummer Games.

A group of neighbours socialise together in an apartment building courtyard.
Image credit: Maxis / Electronic Arts

Back in January of this year, The Sims community was shaken to learn that Grant Rodiek — who had worked at Electronic Arts since 2005 and been a major figure in the last several generations of the franchise, including most recently being named game director on Project Rene (a.k.a. The Sims 5) — was departing the company after nearly two decades. In what can only be described as quite the plot twist, yesterday we learned what he's doing next: teaming up with former XCOM and Marvel's Midnight Suns devs on a new life sim that's quite clearly hoping to rival The Sims series.

It's early days for Midsummer Games, freshly founded by Firaxis alumni Jake Solomon and Will Miller, but the studio has already recruited Rodiek for its debut project, described as "a next-gen life sim that emphasises player-driven narratives, allowing communities to share memorable moments that grow out of the creativity of players themselves."

Not much else has been revealed yet — there's not even a title, and clearly we'll have to wait some years to see the game in action — but the concept is an intriguing one. Studio co-founder Jake Solomon has been teasing for a while in interviews (like this one via PC Gamer) that he'd like to make a life sim that focuses specifically on "small town drama", citing influences as varied as Gilmore Girls and the novels of Stephen King. And, given how much Simmers love recreating their favourite TV shows, movies, books, and even other video games in the iconic life sim, he could be onto a real winner with that idea, especially now that he's secured one of the most experienced producers in the genre.

So we can add this as-yet-unnamed project to the growing list of upcoming life sims aiming to knock The Sims off of its comfortable throne as the uncontested king of the genre, where it has reigned for nearly a quarter of a century. This isn't even the only rival being worked on by a past Sims dev, as Life by You (expected in early access next month) is being helmed by Rodiek's former colleague Rod Humble. Meanwhile, it has similarities to inZOI in that both the turn-based tactical RPG experts at Midsummer Games and PUBG studio Krafton are taking a large step outside of the developer's comfort zone to enter the life sim market.

Add in hotly-anticipated indie Sims-like Paralives — which hopes to finally see the light of early access sometime next year — and underrated lo-fi darling Tiny Life (also an indie, and a solo dev endeavour at that), and suddenly you can't move for varied and viable competition for The Sims. You wait forever for a bus, and so on and so forth.

While the news breaking about Rodiek's shock defection — who at the time hinted at a lack of challenge in his role at EA as a reason for moving on — is presumably causing some small-town drama of its own over at EA/Maxis, The Sims franchise remains very active. While Rodiek's successor as director on the next instalment hasn't been publicly revealed, it's clear that Project Rene is still very much progressing through development.

Meanwhile, The Sims 4 will celebrate its 10th anniversary this September, and EA recently announced 15 planned content updates for the game over the remainder of the year — including the reveal earlier this week of the Season of Love summer content schedule, which will encompass two free updates, two micro DLC kits, and one full expansion pack, all on the theme of romance.

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