Wine has come a long way in the last few years, making it fairly simple to install many popular Windows games on Linux. Cedega and PlayOnLinux have made it even easier by providing GUI assistance and management of your games. One game series, however, has proven to be consistently difficult to get working, and that’s The Sims. With its copy protection, hefty system requirements, and extensive dependencies, The Sims 3 is the most difficult of all. If you’ve been struggling to get this game up and running in Linux, look no further.
Note: This is NOT a guide on how to pirate The Sims. You will still need a working install DVD and license key.
Of the multiple approaches to running Windows software on Linux, PlayOnLinux is without a doubt the best choice for Sims 3. This is not because it’s any more “capable’ of running the program, but because PlayOnLinux provides an install script specifically for this game which makes the process FAR simpler than it would be on Cedega or Wine alone.
I recommend that you do not use the PlayOnLinux package provided by your distribution. In testing for this article, I found the pre-packaged versions to be much less functional and reliable than those provided by the PlayOnLinux website. They have up-to-date packages for nearly every major distribution available here.
When ready, click the Install button at the top of the PlayOnLinux window. You’ll be given a list of known applications, and you’ll find The Sims 3 near the bottom on the Games section. When selected, you’ll get a bit of additional information about the game and its compatibility.
For the record, I believe they are incorrect about Shop Mode not working, as I had no trouble building and furnishing a house.
When ready to begin, click Apply.
A Note About Prefixes
PlayOnLinux uses prefixes to isolate game installations. When you install a game such as The Sims, you get the equivalent of a new instance of Windows for that game. If you then install a different game such as Spore, PlayOnLinux will create a NEW instance of Windows (a new prefix) for Spore to run. This prevents your files and settings for one game from interfering with another.
This is where PlayOnLinux really shines for Sims 3. On plain Wine or Cedega, you’d have to manually install several packages into your prefix before you can even begin the actual Sims install. Fortunately for us, PlayOnLinux takes care of all that. Before Sims begins, you’ll be prompted to install packages such as Gecko, the Microsoft C++ Runtime Library, and Mono. Allow each of these to complete before moving forward to the next step.
You’ll be given a choice as to whether you’d like to install through the DVD or the downloaded package. Either should work with PlayOnLinux, but the remainder of this guide will be using the DVD edition.
When the dependencies have completed, you’ll be asked to insert your media. CD/DVD drives should be detected automatically, but if you have trouble, you can specify a location by choosing Other. Pick the drive and move to the next step.
STOP. At this point it should have launched the Sims 3 Installer from your DVD. If that didn’t happen, go back and verify that you’ve selected the proper location of your installer.
If you DID get the Sims installer, then proceed exactly as you would in Windows.
If asked about the Download Manager, I’d recommend that you not install it. While it’s possible it may work on your setup, it has caused nothing but trouble on the tests I’ve done. Game patches can be applied manually (discussed in more detail at the end of this guide).
When the Sims 3 Installer window is finished and closed, proceed to the next PlayOnLinux screen. You’ll be asked a little bit of basic information about your video card and if you’d like to create shortcuts.
Important – Before You Play
In the opening paragraph, I hinted that one of the problems with getting Sims 3 to run was because of the copy protection. In order to work around this problem you’ve got to replace the “TS3.exe” file with one that does not contain this copy protection. Unfortunately MakeTechEasier cannot provide such “cracks” or even links to them. You should have no problem obtaining more information from big brother G.
For Sims 3 to run, you’ll have to find a modified TS3.exe on your own, and use it to replace the one in your Sims 3 installation. This will likely be found in “~/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/TheSims3/drive_c/Program Files/Electronic Arts/The Sims 3/Game/Bin“.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to play!
Extra – Getting Updates
Earlier I recommended that you skip installing the EA Download Manager. This leaves us with no updates to the game, and Sims 3 is certainly not without its glitches. Fortunately PlayOnLinux has a Patches category which includes a script to install Sims 3 updates manually.