Ambitious moddable life-simulation game Life By You cancelled after repeated delays

More like Life By Nobody, am I right?

7 mins read
The "Storyteller" key art for now-cancelled Life By You.

I guess life was never meant to be designed by you, after all. Who is you? YOU you! Upon announcement, Paradox Interactive and Paradox Tectonics’ Life By You was described as being really moddable and open, and maybe “ambitious” should have been tacked onto that list of superlatives. Following multiple Early Access launch date delays, the game has been cancelled altogether.

Life By You was supposed the be la crème de la crème of life simulation games, which is why I wonder now (thanks, hindsight) if it was maybe too ambitious to begin with. It was described in many words that generally sum up as “The Sims but more!” You were supposed to be in charge of it all: create the humans, build the town, tell the stories – all with no boundaries and no loading screens. Turns out, life has a loading screen after all…'s Discord banner. You click on it to be taken to the Website's Discord server

I initially described myself as being hooked to the idea of being hooked to Life By You, but even I became jaded after all of those setbacks. It has been plagued with delays ever since its initial Early Access announcement. The first scheduled launch date, announced in March 2023, was September 12 of that year. Last July, it was pushed quite far; its next announced date was March 5, 2024. In February 2024, it was delayed yet again, this time until June 4. Come May, it was postponed indefinitely. Paradox Interactive CEO Mattias Lilja made a statement at the time, claiming the team believed it was “prudent” to “hold off” on a new release window (not even date!) instead of claiming a date that was unattainable in the end. If the other delays weren’t cause for concern, the shift to no release date or even release window was certainly something that spelled near-certain doom.

A Paradox staff member posted a statement from Lilja on Paradox Forum. What I do appreciate is the apparent transparency of what was said, which is basically “we messed up and here’s why.” I feel a bit bad for him, as he was only brought on as Paradox Interactive’s CEO two months ago; he most have been dropped into one heck of a messy situation. He admits that Paradox didn’t meet its own expectations or those of (former) potential players, describing the situation as “a clear failure on Paradox’s part.”

The rest of the statement is actually worth a read in full, to give some first-hand insight into what went wrong. (Of course, this information is only as reliable as its narrator, and of that I am unsure.)

Life by You has been in the works for a long time and we’ve been very excited about the promise and the potential of this game. Our hope was always that it would be able to leave a mark in this exciting and new genre for us. That’s why we’ve opted to delay it twice, to give the studio and the game a fair shot at realizing the potential we saw. For each delay we made, we’ve seen incremental improvements, which in hindsight may well have led us to focus on details rather than the whole picture.

A screenshot of the character creator in Life By You.

A few weeks back, we decided to hold off on an Early Access release in order to re-evaluate Life by You, as we still felt that the game was lacking in some key areas. Though a time extension was an option, once we took that pause to get a wider view of the game, it became clear to us that the road leading to a release that we felt confident about was far too long and uncertain. This is not to say the game has not shown any promising qualities; Life by You had a number of strengths and the hard work of a dedicated team that went into realizing them. However, when we come to a point where we believe that more time will not get us close enough to a version we would be satisfied with, then we believe it is better to stop. This is obviously tough and disappointing for everyone who poured their time and enthusiasm into this project, especially when our decision comes so late in the process.

At the end of the day, our job is to release games that are fun, interesting, and challenging for our players, and our every decision should be taken with that purpose in mind. When we get that right, we earn our pay. So, how do we ensure we don’t find ourselves here again? Honestly, there are no real guarantees. Games are difficult to get right, and we’ll definitely make mistakes, which, as these things go, always become painfully apparent in hindsight, but still shouldn’t reach this kind of magnitude regardless. We have to take a long and hard look at what led us here and see what changes we have to make to become better. In the end, our mission remains the same, and we’ll continue to take whatever steps we need to do just that.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the only Paradox title to experience multiple delays (see: Prison Architect 2) so I’m a bit concerned about the publisher side of things (Paradox Interactive) and wonder if maybe Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 could be in trouble from that standpoint. Only time will tell what might happen to these two games, as well as any others in Paradox’s pipeline.

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Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

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