Paralives has been a very recent phenomenon, described as a 3D life simulator that is heavily inspired by The Sims. By definition, it is in direct competition with the franchise that has held a monopoly on the life simulation genre since inception in 2000. The Sims was originally not a well regarded investment as it was common belief back then that games were fundamentally played by men such that a dollhouse simulator would not be appealing enough. Given the recent success of the likes of animal crossing and various simulation games such as Stardew Valley and of course, The Sims, we know that the sentiment was perhaps wrongly placed.
Paralives is created by Alex Masse and has cell shaded 3D graphics, that is simple but is also simultaneously very appealing. It has established a very big following over the last year and a half. Alex is a Canadian game developer who at the time of writing in 2021 has around $40,000 in monthly support on Patreon. This game shows that there is a supportive audience of gamers who are willing to support an unreleased game well before it is ready.
This point is by far not a trivial one, as I do not believe any other game until now has managed to gather so much financial support before release without the game as an actual reward. Kickstarter does count, but that is payment for a pre-order, therefore being different in a fundamental way.
Take into consideration the vast number of games that are currently being released or developed by indie teams – many of whom are very hard working and original in their ideas. It is common knowledge that to build a following today in 2021 is very challenging as the competitive is so high. However, to this, I would say that most games conceptually, are very typical in terms of genre. It is very common to create RPGs or roguelikes such that unless it is well above the competition in a measurable way, it becomes very difficult to advertise. In the case of platformers, one would be competing against the likes of Hollow Knight, Owlboy and Celeste which are very high bars of entry for any indie developer. Or if we were to take Roguelikes, then we would be looking at Hades, Dead Cells or The Binding of Isaac, all of which in my opinion are near flawless games by design.
The scope of Paralives, however, is also much greater than the aforementioned games. Given that it is 3D and of course, I am making a life simulator myself, I am well aware of why there are not competitors to The Sims – the game is very difficult to make well. This is almost startup 101, if it has not been done before, it is either too hard, or not a good idea. Very rarely is it a good idea that no one has thought of before, unfortunately. In our case sadly, it is in fact a fantastic idea, just that it is a very difficult kind of game to develop well.