Completely new features
These features have not existed in any game in The Sims series before:
- Seamless neighborhood
- Time passes on all lots on the same time - in The Sims 2 it was frozen on the home lot as long as Sims visited community lots. To avoid exploitation of this, Sims could not learn skills, or sleep, in community lots. In The Sims 3, Sims can do almost everything regardless of where they are.
- Ability to visit other homes
- Story progression - non-active households evolve during gameplay
- Create-A-Sim features:
- Create A Style
- Ability to adjust lifespan or turn off aging
- New skills (Guitar, Painting, Writing) and challenges
- "Rabbit holes" - elementary, opaque civic buildings
- Enhanced job features
- Job performance options
- Dynamic performance criteria (skills, co-workers, assignments)
The Sims 2 expansion features in The Sims 3
Many features introduced in The Sims 2 expansions appear in The Sims 3 base game, to some extent.
- Young adults (University): This life stage was for college years. Now it is a regular life stage.
- Mobile phones (University): Each Sim that is a child and older now has a mobile phone fixed in their inventory.
- Guitar (University): As The Sims: House Party and The Sims 2: University featured a fixed electric guitar, The Sims 3 has a portable acoustic guitar with a designated guitar skill.
- Treadmill (University)
- Private cars (Nightlife)
- Personal inventory (Nightlife) - now limited to vehicles and portable objects
- Fish tanks (Pets) - can be used for caught fish
- Gardening (Seasons) - expanded
- Fishing (Seasons) - expanded
- Storing and eating leftovers (Seasons)
- Jewelry (Bon Voyage) - though many kinds of jewelry (such as face piercings) are left out
- Walking between lots (Bon Voyage)
- Activity table (Free Time): Toddlers no longer gain regular skills, but certain activities can give skills as they grow up.
- Bug catching (Free Time): See collecting.
- Ceilings (Apartment Life)
- Toothbrushing (Apartment Life): As it was featured in The Sims 1 base game.
- Playground structures (Apartment Life)
These game features were found in The Sims 2 base game but not in The Sims 3.
- Cleaning skill - much because of the neat and slob Sim traits
- Creativity skill - replaced by Guitar skill, Painting and Writing
- Aspiration - replaced by lifetime happiness
- Slacker career - replaced by part-time jobs
- Underwear styles - though underwear can be used as the pajamas style
- Private school
- Visible retail stores - replaced by "rabbit holes"
- Aliens, alien abduction, alien pregnancy
- Environment and comfort needs (replaced by moodlets)
- The ability to create new neighborhoods
- Photo album - Screenshots are uploaded to TheSims3.com where stories are created.
- The need to buy clothes - your Sims already have everything.
- Cockroaches - Although they can be collected. See collecting.
- Dreaming during sleep
These objects (with unique interactions) were found in The Sims 2 but not The Sims 3:
- Aspiration rewards - replaced by lifetime happiness rewards
- Career reward objects (sandbag, hydroponic garden, obstacle course etc)
- Piano - replaced by Guitar
- Springboard - though pools remain
- Hot tub
- Retail objects - cash register, shelves etc
- Farstar e3 Telescope - the simple telescope remains
- Specialised weight machines - the game now has only one combined weight machine.
- Magazines - though specialized books exist
- Wedding arch