Electronic Arts' soft launch is officially over; you can now download The Sims Mobile for Android and iOS. And as you kick off the first of many (many) hours toward tricking out your virtual companion with awesome outfits and home accessories, I implore you: Don't hack the game.
Screenshot: Electronic Arts
Rather, don't go searching for a modified APK of the game for Android. (Sorry, Apple fans; you won't be able to do much "hacking" on iOS unless you have a jailbroken device and, even then, that's a pretty extreme step to take just for your sim.)
Shut up I need Simoleons
I'm not suggesting you avoid hacks because I have a particular love for Electronic Arts or free-to-play mobile games. The former loves the latter and the latter can be pretty insidious, especially for those who don't realise how deep their gaming addiction has grown until they have done something unfortunate to their bank accounts.
I used to hack the crap out of The Simpsons: Tapped Out. In fact, it was the only reason I held on to an old, barely usable HTC One. I'd use a modified APK to give myself unlimited doughnuts and access to every building in the game, outfit my town full of stuff, sync the game with Electronic Arts' servers, and go play it for-real on my more up-to-date iPad.
Even though I took a few precautions to feel safer about using modified APKs - including running the game on a factory-reset HTC One containing no identifying information and not associating my real email address (or any passwords I use) with the game - it's still risky business.
Like when you download pirated software, you have absolutely no idea who has done what with the software you're using. Sure, you might find a clever way to get unlimited Simoleons, but you'd be foolish to do so on your primary device. A hacker could have also tossed a keylogger or malware into a game's APK, and even if you're using sites such as VirusTotal or NVISO ApkScan to check the APK, you never know if they have found everything.
And even the sites where you download these modified APKs can feel sketchy. For the latest updates to a hacked APK - since companies such as Electronic Arts will frequently update their games and break hacks - you typically have to find and sign up for some "modded gamez" forum to access up-to-date, modified APKs. If you don't really know what you're doing and you just "Feel Lucky" with a Google search for "The Sims Mobile hacked APK", you're probably going to get a fake download from an ad-filled spammy site - or worse, a hacked APK that does more harm to your device than good.
But I still need Simoleons
Sigh. If you really, really must cheat in The Sims Mobile, I have good news and bad news. So far, it doesn't appear as if any modified APKs work in a "real" environment. In other words, I haven't seen anything you can download right now, sideload onto your Android device, and use to gain unlimited access to the game's content and/or digital currency.
Some have suggested using Android emulation programs on your desktop or laptop computer to load the game, and then using other third-party apps to directly modify data in The Sims Mobile. I haven't tried this technique; I'm just the messenger.
There is also some disagreement over whether these kinds of Android emulation programs are even safe to install. If you really want the potentially glitchy experience of playing The Sims Mobile on your non-smartphone - somewhat defeating the point of a mobile game - at least run your emulator in a sandbox. (And let me know how it goes!)
I eventually stopped playing my hacked version of The Simpsons: Tapped Out because keeping up with the game's updates - and finding new hacked APKs that actually worked - was more tedious than just playing the game as Electronic Arts intended. Of course, I didn't even do that, because I already felt burnt out after spending months building myself a God-town for free. In hindsight, if I hadn't done that, I think I might have had a lot more fun.