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Game On: The Sims 3 for Mac

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I was not terribly impressed with The Sims 3 for iPhone, but as I said in my review, it did whet my appetite for the Mac desktop version of the game. So much so that I went out yesterday afternoon to pick it up. Best Buy was all out of the collector’s edition, but I wasn’t committed to the idea of carrying around a Plumbob USB drive anyway, so I picked up the regular copy for $49.95 and got to playing god.

And play it I did. I played for nine straight hours yesterday, and another few today, eating in a hurried frenzy only when my Sim was sleeping. All for you…a truly selfless act. Here’s what I found as a result of my living-by-proxy marathon.


The Sims 3 definitely looks better than its predecessors. Objects and sims are more detailed, textures are smoother, and animations are better looking. The real difference with regards to graphics, however, doesn’t have to do with any landmark improvements in the basics (there aren’t any astounding changes), but rather with the way the world as a whole is set up.

Nice, interactive vistas

The Sims experience has always been primarily compartmentalized, with your house being one location, and social settings and the houses of others being entirely different, closed-off modules. In The Sims 3, the walls between modules are largely taken down. If you zoom out, and pan, you can see and interact with your neighbors’ houses, parks, and community buildings, and even the ocean.

Clicking on objects that you can see results in actions being made available, without ever having to exit out to a town map. The town map is still available, though, in case you want more simple navigation across greater distances.

Visually, the open world makes The Sims 3 look and feel much more like the life simulator it’s meant to be, and it’s one of the biggest reasons to upgrade from The Sims 2, in my opinion.

My test machine was an iMac with 4GBs of RAM running an ATI Radeon 2600HD graphics card. The game should run fine any any computer using the new NVIDIA (s nvda) cards, too.


Simish is back in full force, and it sounds just as silly as ever. They seem to say “zune” a lot more frequently than most other words, so either that’s the sim version of “the” or Microsoft’s (s msft) done some very keen product placement.

Sweatin' to the oldies
Sweatin' to the oldies

Music is well done again in The Sims 3, with a decent variety of tracks available for your stereo systems, and some genuinely pleasant sounds coming from your sim’s guitar if you build up their Music ability.

Other ambient sounds are all fine, although it does seem at times like the game is far too quiet considering everything that’s going on. I suppose finding a nice balance between too noisy and too quietly for a life simulator like this would be quite the challenge, and it’s the type of game that you like to have something else on while playing anyway.


Let’s take a look at a few different aspects of gameplay within the new Sims.


As in real life, I generally prefer to keep my options open and succeed as a Sims freelancer by selling paintings, working as a writer, and, new in Sims 3, selling the fish that I catch. The last one is not one that I actually do in real life, in case you were wondering. No good fishing spots in Toronto, is the problem.

For the sake of this review, I decided to pursue a career in rock stardom to see what sticking to the more conventional professional pursuits available in the game was like.

As in previous games, in order to earn promotions in your chosen field, you have to build up your skills and keep your mood elevated. Depending on what you do, you also might have to strive to get along well with your co-workers, and in The Sims 3, you actually know which fellow sim is your boss, and you can butter them up.

I found career building not quite as challenging as in previous versions, which is good because other aspects of the game are now much more rich and deserving of attention. Also, I tend to forget that your sims now have a limited lifespan (since Sims 2), so the pacing is actually entirely appropriate. Currently, I’m a pop star, but I’m approaching retirement age, so I’m not sure I’ll reach the top of my career ladder.

This is where I rock sold out crowds
This is where I rock sold out crowds

Work is much more interesting than in past games because you can influence your performance by changing how you are working. A context menu attached to the task in the upper right-hand corner of the screen lets you choose between a variety of different ways of working, including working hard and slacking off, which affect your mood and job performance. This is a huge improvement over the hours of doing nothing in previous versions.


There’s so much for your sims to do in their spare time in this game that it hardly feels like they have any. As mentioned above, you can go fishing, and check out various other activities in town. You can also grow your own food by gardening, and paint as in prior installments.

Frankly, I didn’t find time to do much in town, though the options are numerous. In-town activities also include random events like sales, concerts (both performing and attending), and chess competitions. I actually ended up trying to find mood modifying cheats so that I could enjoy them all, but no such luck.

Life in General

Overall, the experience is just far more rich and detailed than in previous versions. They’ve taken out some things that were annoying, and added some that are much more fun, so it doesn’t feel too cluttered. That said, I think trying to further detail day-to-day affairs would really hamper my enjoyment of the franchise. As it is, it feels like too much to do, too little time, which is exactly the opposite of the iPhone version.

Me playing a computer game in the computer game I'm playing
Me playing a computer game in the computer game I'm playing


If you like the previous Sims games, you definitely won’t be disappointed with Sims 3. Some things have been taken out, but better things have been added, resulting in a much more enjoyable experience overall. This is a must-have for Mac gamers.

164 Responses to “Game On: The Sims 3 for Mac”

  1. Kristin Fiore

    I’m having, again, the same mac crashing problem… I’ve never even set up time machine on my new mac and I checked again just to make sure it was off and I’m still experiencing the horrible crashes. I am so frustrated and disappointed with EA.

  2. Another recommendation for turning off Time Machine – I was experiencing the crash to desktop at random intervals and based on my limited experience after shutting off TM, this seems to have resolved the problem.

  3. nickfx

    Hi, regarding the game crashes on the Mac, we’ve been having the same problem, hardly get an hours game play and lose everything since the last save. Other forums are suggesting a link with Time Machine ending its backups. I’ve turned off Time Machine and so far, no more crashes!!

    Worth a try.


  4. Thomas Liokos

    Same here… I have a MBP bought on April 2009. My sims3 crashes with no warning and no messages at all!! On my iMac runs smoothly but it’s not an option playing at office!!!

    My MBP’s specs are:

    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro5,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 3 MB
    Memory: 2 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz

    GRAPHICS (2 Cards)

    1)NVIDIA GeForce 9400M:

    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
    Type: Display
    Bus: PCI
    VRAM (Total): 256 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0863
    Revision ID: 0x00b1
    ROM Revision: 3343
    gMux Version: 1.7.3
    Color LCD:
    Resolution: 1440 x 900
    Depth: 32-Bit Color
    Core Image: Hardware Accelerated
    Main Display: Yes
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Quartz Extreme: Supported
    Built-In: Yes
    Display Connector:
    Status: No Display Connected
    2)NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT:

    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
    Type: Display
    Bus: PCIe
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 256 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0647
    Revision ID: 0x00a1
    ROM Revision: 3343
    gMux Version: 1.7.3
    Display Connector:
    Status: No Display Connected
    Display Connector:
    Status: No Display Connected

    Huge dissapointment from EA!!!!

  5. Everyone, i think that mac users should try turning off time machine, if its on.
    Apparently its worked with heaps of people, and im about to try it, so it might help you.

  6. Serenity

    I have the same problem as Hattie. My Sims appear all black, so I don’t even bother trying to continue to play the game. I just got it today, and this problem is kind of annoying.

  7. a15ha

    For the Dell pc users, maybe this is the problem. the graphic card crashes, it used to happen to me on sims 2 aswell. you have to update the driver for the graphic card, should work better

  8. hattie

    My speeds all seem to work ok, but the game seems a bit slow but once you get into it you dont mind.
    When i go on the create a sim part of the game, my sim appears all black, (as in block colour not skin tone) except for the eyes and hair. Can anybody help? I have tried changing skin tone, clothes and rotating the sim but they still stay black.

    • kaitlin

      yes! the same thing is happening to me! i don’t know what to do. i tried the game on a pc and it worked perfectly fine and i returned the game thinking it was a glitch so then i re-downloaded it on my mac and then it just did the same thing!!! im so frustrated. did you fix yours?

  9. hattie

    My speeds all seem to work ok, but the game seems a bit slow but once you get into it you dont mind.
    When i go on the create a sim part of the game, my sim appears all black, (as in block colour not skin tone) except for the eyes and hair. Can anybody help? I have tried changing skin tone, clothes and rotating the sim but they still stay black.

  10. oh and i forgot to say, if it crashes when you’re saving, you loose all progress with the family, its happened to me twice now and im so fed up with it, it completely makes the game un-playable.

    I fixed my issue with the exchange, but i don’t see how EA could overlook such a huge flaw in the game, i mean, aren’t there programmers who should have noticed this or something, its not that complicated.

  11. Lauren

    I have a Dell PC and mine randomly crashed too, I don’t think it’s just with Macs now, I think it’s the game in general.
    EA needs to fix this immediatly

  12. Harry

    I’m planning on getting it today (woop!). But I’m scared because my version of Mac is not the highest, I think its Tiger. Will it work? I have a Macbook (not unibody) V10.4.11 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. Does anyone know if this will be safe. PLEASE REPLY SOON!

    • Maggie

      I have the same computer as you! I had to upgrade my computer to leopard and then buy 2 more gb of RAM.

      Are you having any problems with sims 3 on your computer? Please tell me. I’d like to know for future reference.

  13. Professor

    I’m running a new MacBook Pro and I’ve suffered no crashes. However, the game stutters many times and I have to quit and restart to remedy the problem. But that’s not all. Even when TS3 isn’t stuttering, it moves abysmally slow. Navigation is seriously hampered, as is the passage of game time. Set the game’s timer to Fast (#3 on the keyboard) and it still crawls along. And all this occurs while using the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT graphics processor with 512MB of VRAM, not the slower 9400M. I’m sure the problem is with the software, not the hardware. I’ve run more demanding games on the MBP without incident, yet this is the one to which I most looked forward.

  14. Justin

    Heads up… EA customer support is the WORST. It is an e-mail based system, and it has become clear that they do not actually read your comments. They simply respond with a canned, pre-written e-mail based off the drop down menu selections you chose (PC> Sims 3> Troubleshooting> Crashes) There is no option in the drop down menu for MAC!!! Their robot responds telling me to run msconfig and gives me other windows XP troubleshooting tasks to try. I made it VERY clear that I am on a mac and after two back and forth exchanges the responses are still directing me to troubleshoot my “PC”
    Has anyone else had any luck finding a solution? I guess the problem isn’t big enough for them to care.

  15. Justin

    Oh, ALSO… they tell you to delete your sims 2 folder (found in documents) as well as try the game with all settings on low. I have done both. They do not help. My computer is capable of handling this game. This is some strange glitch, not a graphics overload.
    My MBP has the Radeon X1600.

  16. Justin

    I have a Mac Book Pro 2.33 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3 gig ram, on OSX 10.5.7 and the game randomly crashes just like Joe stated above. No warning, no error message. It is really discouraging. Obviously this makes the game unplayable, as you lose everything when the crash happens. It plays just fine on my Mac Pro desktop (16 gig ram) but I want to play it on my laptop. I have been trying to contact EA support, but they won’t respond. There isn’t even an option to select mac as your platform. It’s like they forgot they released the game on mac. Is there a forum or official thread for people like us with this problem? If enough of us contact EA they will eventually look into it. I just want a fix.

    • You’re game is NOT gonna work. I’ve had the same probelum as you when i first got the sims 3, and it kept on crashing. The game doesn’t work on the Mac Book Pro. I dont know why, i guess its just not compatible. It works on desktop but not on theMAc books. Sorry. its really frusturating!!!!!

    • hi.. i have the same problem as you and joe’s wife with the game crashing without any warning. i have a mac desktop OS X version 10.4.11, so i installed new software, snow leopard, ilife and iwork ’09 and also installed another Gb of RAM to meet the minimum 2GB RAM requirement. I was impatient to play the game, so only installed snow leopard initially and started playing.. all was sweet! after i’d install ilife and iwork ’09, the problems with crashing started. But now it doesn’t crash anymore, it just freezes!! I only got the game the other day, and i just want to play!! Did you manage to resolve your game problems?

    • I have the old macbook pro and my bf has the brand new one and we can both lay the new sims game just fine. Has anyone checked to see if maybe they have a program or update error that is blocking the gameplay?

    • Maggie

      I had the same problem as you, but then I bought leopard and 2 gb of memory and was able to run sims 3 on my imac.

      Just a hint:
      I raised money for the leopard and memory by having a garage sale and putting some of my unwanted valuables on ebay. The total cost of everything together was about $278 for me.

      Don’t bother going through all this trouble if you have a macbook! They are very unreliable, even with all the requirements met.

  17. Brian

    I’m also having problems with speeds. It’s the same slow speed no matter what I put it on. I sat through one night of sleeping, and I couldn’t play anymore. Frustrating. Anyone know about this?

  18. Lindsay

    I am having the same problem with the fast forward. I can get 1-3 to work, but 4 is the same as 3. I have to sit and wait for my Sim to get out of bed (I think Sim time is 1 hour to our minutes) so I have to twiddle my thumbs for 8 minutes! Auh!

  19. Jennifer

    I purchased it on release day and have a Jan 09 unibody MBP with upgraded RAM (4gb) and it runs pretty well. Initially, the play was choppy when I was out and about town, but that seemed to resolve itself with a computer reboot.
    Since then, I’ve had zero issues. I love this game!!

  20. Devon

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I cant wait to get it it omes out here today !!! im not very well 2daii andd my mum has gone into exeter so im not sure ifshe will getr itt for me por not i hope sooo (yn)

  21. yeah i’m getting the same deal as joe too, i got it yesterday, and ive been playing it on my i think 2 or 3 month old unibody MacBook and it just randomly crashes, with no errors or warnings or anything.

    Oh and i tried to download something off the exchange, and it said my version wasnt up to date, but i have the right OS and i checked and i have the latest updates for the sims 3.

    Its awesome when its working, but i just randomly loose everything, and its really annoying.

  22. I’m scared to experience the same thing as Joe … I have a unibody MacBook purchased in Jan 2009 and I’m hoping the game is playable but have heard stories about the random crashes. I’d like to hear more about your exact machine and experiences Joe … any way to touch base? Do you have a website?

  23. My wife has been having a horrible time with this on a 2-week old unibody Macbook. The game crashes randomly to desktop with no error or warning. When it runs, it looks great. It just goes boom. :(

    • i have the same problem. but mine is weirder. i’m not even on mac. i have microsoft windows xp on my computer. But after 15 of gameplay – including the start up video and loading screen – the game will just close and go back to my desktop. i have tried uninstalling and reinstalling sims 3, but no avail. it is just weird. but this keeps happening, like there is something wrong with the game to keep closing uexpectedly on me. grrr, it makes me so cranky. i havn’t played sims in ages, because i know i will just loose all my progress unless i save every 2 minutes. but even then, i have to start up the game again every 15 minutes.

      • Hanimallover

        sims 2 is the best NEVER crashes i do want to expirience sims 3 but i did get the game but it said something about trying to validate it and calling customer support but my dad wont call them I DONT KNOW THEIR PHONE NUMBER im just a teen

    • I’m having the same problem. The screen will just close down during gameplay, and if I don’t save my progress every two minutes I lose everything. I have Windows XP as well. Because of this I haven’t played my game in months!

    • I have the same thing happen to me. I have a macbook also. It is new (I bought it a month ago) the sims worked for 3.5 weeks then it decides to be difficult. Crashing without warning, glitches and distorted graphics, I am puzzled because I am completely up to requirements etc and I can’t seem to get it working properly. I think that it could have something to do with the items downloaded from the exchange area on the sims 3 website. They are full of viruses and advertising (for external object/clothing/hair download sites).

  24. Any chance you will test it in other Macs? Some of the forums have ongoing posts regarding the requirements and performance on various machines.

    • I just bought the Sims 3 today, and something is going wrong. My people don’t have skin, they look like shadows. I had this same problem when I tried to play Spore, my creatures didn’t show up on the screen. Does anyone know what this is about or how to fix this problem?

    • Katu, I have the same problem on my MacBook (and the sky is yellow). From what I’ve gathered, it is because the graphics card is out of date.

      Anyone have a differed answer to this problem???

    • I was having a similar problem with The Sims 3. It was running super slow, game time was equaling about 1 game minute every real 15 to 20 seconds, even on triple speed. So I looked into it and found out that my os was OS X 10.5.6 and the minimum for the game was 10.5.7. Well I updated it and now it runs beautifully. If that is not the problem then I would guess that it is you graphics card or something similar.

    • My sims are appearing as shadows too! And i dont want to update the graphic card because i cant buy an update and i dont want to go onto a website that might harm my computer…