In the late ’90s, The Sims was almost canceled multiple times by Maxis, the studio behind the game. This surprising revelation comes from Chaim Gingold’s book Building SimCity, which details the history of simulation games and the challenges faced by Maxis during that time. Despite facing doubts and hostility from Maxis management, Will Wright, the designer of The Sims, continued to work on the project, originally called “Dollhouse.”

However, Maxis was hesitant to take risks, especially with the studio gearing up to go public. The concept of Dollhouse was not well-received by the studio, with some dismissing it as something only for “little girls.” Despite facing resistance, Dollhouse persisted, thanks to Wright’s determination and clever rebranding tactics.

After Maxis went public in 1995, financial troubles and mismanagement led to the cancellation of Project X, the internal name for The Sims. But the project was revived by Jim Mackraz from the Core Technology Group at Maxis, who continued development under the name “Jefferson.” Ultimately, Electronic Arts stepped in and acquired Maxis in 1997, saving The Sims from potential cancellation.

One key factor in The Sims’ success was the involvement of women at Maxis, who played crucial roles in shaping the game’s direction. Artists like Jenny Martin and Suzie Greene helped define the signature look of The Sims, while designers Claire Curtin and Roxy Wolosenko worked alongside Wright to bring the game to life. Even Wright’s daughter, Cassidy, provided valuable feedback on early prototypes.

With the support of EA, The Sims was released in 2000 and became a massive success, earning over $5 billion for the franchise by 2020. The story of The Sims’ near-cancellation and eventual triumph serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and creative vision in the face of adversity. It also highlights the valuable contributions of women in the gaming industry, whose influence and talent helped shape one of the most iconic games of all time.