The Sims(TM) 3

The Sims(TM) 3

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Migrating The Sims 3 to the Origin Client
By marstinson
At some point in time, players are going to be faced with the question, "do I keep this game on Steam or migrate to Origin?" If you choose to migrate, this guide will help you avoid several of the potholes on the road. This guide DOES NOT prefer one client over the other, but is only here to keep you from ripping out your suspension (and hair). The guide is for PC.
Why Must I Choose? Isn't Steam Good Enough?
The short answer to this question is "sure", depending on whether you like taking advantage of sales from other vendors or not. Personally, I prefer Steam to Origin. It really chaps my hide when I cannot fully enjoy a game that I purchased from the vendor where I purchased it. But kind of like the browser wars of the 90s, the game client wars are in full swing and gamers are caught smack dab in the middle. Valve, EA, Ubisoft, and the rest are working hard to tie games into their clients and there isn't anything we gamers can do about it other than either not buying their games or learning to live with the problems the vendors create.

In this instance, Valve and EA are not playing nicely in the sandbox together. You can purchase The Sims 3 (and all of the Stuff Packs and Expansion Packs) from Valve and play them through the Steam client, or you can purchase from Origin (and probably a few other vendors -- I haven't really checked), but what you purchase from Origin cannot be installed on Steam. In other words, the product key that you get from Origin will not work with Steam and the downloaded content from Origin will not go on top of your Steam installation.

The converse is not true, though. While Steam content will not install on top of your Origin installation, your Steam product keys will work. As long as you register your Steam-purchased content with EA (registration steps are in the next section), you can download and play it from Origin, at least as of summer 2014.

So, at some point, every player is probably going to have to choose which client they want to use. My advice is to use whichever one you like best, but keep in mind that the choice may lock you into a particular vendor for future purchases. Your game, your money, your choice.
Removing Your Steam Version
I suppose that it might be possible to have the game installed twice on the same machine, but that's a dodgy way of doing things, so you'll need to remove your Steam game before you can install from Origin.

Steam made it super easy to install and remove the games that they sell. This is one of the biggest reasons why I like Steam.

Step 1: go into your game library, right-click The Sims 3 and select "Delete Local Content"
Step 2: there is no step 2 - that's how easy it was

OK, I lied (a little). There is likely some cleanup that you still need to do.

1. Go into your Steam apps directory (\Steam\steamapps\common) and delete the Sims 3 folder if it's still there.
2. Go into your Documents folder and get rid of \Electronic Arts\The Sims 3

Note: if you have mods installed, you'll want to save the \Mods folder, and you might want to try saving the \Saves folder, but everything else can go. Just move the subfolders you want to save to someplace easy to find (like your Desktop) and you can drop them back in after reinstalling. I don't know for certain that the saves will migrate to a new installation, but they should in theory.

If you have a registry cleaner, you'll probably want to run it to clear out lingering entries, but if you're going to immediately download and install from Origin, it's not necessary since those entries will just get overwritten by the new install. (yeah, let's remove that and just go with "always run a registry cleaner after uninstalling").

3. Cold reboot (that's a complete power down and power up again)

Done deal. Gotta love Steam.
Installing From Origin (Make a pot of coffee - this will take a while)
What follows is based on a few assumptions:

1. You've decided to migrate your Sims 3 game to the Origin client. If not, then enjoy the read, but the info is going to be pretty much useless.
2. You've completely removed The Sims 3 from your computer using the steps in the previous section. If not, go do that.
3. You have an EA account and have installed the Origin client. If not, go do that. You can do both from (kind of like installing Steam, only not as pleasant).
4. You've registered your game and any Stuff Packs or Expansion Packs with EA. If not:
  • go to
  • log in using the email and password you used for Origin
  • Go to My Page --> My Account --> Register a Game
  • enter the CD Key(s) from your Steam purchase(s) - note that copy/paste won't work for this unless you remove the hyphens from the product keys first using something like Notepad
5. You have plenty of time and copious amounts of your prefered beverage(s) and snack(s). If not, you'll need a really high boredom threshold or strong masochistic leanings.

Installing the Base Game
The first hurdle is installing the base game. Unlike Steam (which kind of bundles all of your stuff into one download), Origin makes you do everything individually. If you've registered your game with EA, then The Sims 3 and all of your Expansion and Stuff Packs should be under "My Games" in your Origin client. If it isn't you'll need to contact EA directly because there's a problem somewhere. Start the base game download and find something constructive to do while it finishes.

Once the download of the base game is finished, Origin will install it for you. Kind of like Steam, it goes into Origin's directory on your hard drive. Unlike Steam, however, EA distributes unpatched games, so you'll need to launch the game and let it grab the latest patch (current version is 1.67.2 and the patch weighs in at 1.6GB, so it, too will take a while). Then relaunch the game after the patch installs.

Installing Bonus Stuff
If you previously registered your game with EA, then you've likely got bonus stuff that needs to be installed, Do that first using the "Open Downloads Dashboard" option from the game's main menu. Your stuff should be ready to use once you have the "Installed" message and a thumbnail of the content in the download manager. Note that you'll find lots of little status messages BEHIND the download manager when you close it. Depending the amount of stuff, plan on giving your mousing finger a workout as you close those messages.

Installing Expansion Packs and Stuff Packs
I'm a fan of installing Expansion Packs first since they make changes to the base game. Stuff Packs just add, well, STUFF to the in-game Buy and Build modes, but don't really change the game itself.

As far as I can tell, the order in which you install Expansion Packs doesn't really matter. You might get a message about one or more of the Expansion Packs being older than the installed game version, but that's not an issue. Since you just patched the game (you did patch it, right?), you should be good to go.

You can either queue everything up and let it run or deal with one pack at a time. I tend toward one-at-a-time, but that's only because I like to kick the tires and test drive before adding the next chunk. If you're not that kind of player, just queue it all up and let it go.

Island Paradise (and maybe some other packs that I don't have) will ask you for your product key when you install it. Mouse over it in the Origin client and click the little " i " button. The product key will be on that page and it can just be copied and pasted into the installer dialogue box (no hyphens - how thoughtful). Except for that one, the rest of my Expansion Packs did not ask for anything from me during installation.

Launch the game, create a randomly generated Sim in a new game and make sure everything is working correctly. Unless it turns out that you like this particular Sim, there's no need to save; you're just making sure everything is where it is supposed to be and working the way it is supposed to work. 99% of the time, it will. It's that 1% that's killer and why I like to test drive after installing each pack.

If you can identify which pack went hinky on you, go into your Control Panel and uninstall that pack. Run a registry cleaner to get rid of lingering entries and reboot. Then redownload it, reinstall it and test it again. If it's still hinky, it's time to get with EA technical support. Since you've already redownloaded and reinstalled, don't let them make you do it again.

Reinstalling Mods and Saved Games
Once you're sure that everything is running correctly, drop the \Mods folder and your \Saves folder back into the \Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3 folder and you should be golden.
You're Ready to Play
You are now ready to play your game. Hopefully you've followed the steps I've set out in this guide and still have both your hair and your sanity. Whether you still have your sobriety depends on the favorite beverage you've been imbibing during the process, but even on an exceptionally speedy Internet connection, you've probably been at it for several hours so it's time for some playing.

Again, the root cause of the problem is that Valve and EA simply have not got their collective acts together when it comes to what can be purchased and installed from who. I have hopes that one day everyone will play nicely with each other and the customers (we gamers) won't be caught in the middle of these feuds. We'll probably see it about the time the Titanic reaches New York and Harold Stassen finally wins the Republican nomination, but all things are possible in an infinite universe. In the meantime we roll with the punches, learn to work around these little issues, and love our games.
Update for the 1.69 Patch (12/31/15)
Somewhat out of the blue, EA decided to issue a patch for The Sims 3 in late 2015, almost two years after the 1.67 patch. Not being privy to the internal goings-on at EA, my best guess is that the patch is intended largely to combat piracy since it makes it virtually impossible to bypass the game's launcher, kind of forcing Origin validation in order to play. It did a couple of constructive things, though:
  • a lot of the launcher issues seem to have been addressed and fixed. This was one of the major reasons for trying to bypass it in the first place. You will need to log in using your Origin ID once for validation, but it does not appear to require being logged in after that, at least I have not needed to do so.
  • you may now select which official content packs you want to use. If, for example, you have decided that the Showtime expansion was not quite what you were hoping for or that having your furniture shredded by Pets has stopped being cute, then you may now deselect them and their content will not load with the rest of the game. They are still installed, though, so you can change your mind and reselect them later for use in a different game without needing to redownload it.

But along with the good comes the bad and one of the major bads affects people who use the Create a World (CAW) tool. It no longer works once the game is updated to 1.69. EA says they are working on a fix for this, but the chatter seems to point to a situation where CAW will work with either 1.67 or 1.69, but not both.

This patch does not seem to have any effect on a Steam installation, so your Steam game will continue to be at 1.67 for the foreseeable future. Again, this might present problems with CAW if they update the tool to work with 1.69.
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andrewbluemoon27 Jul 25, 2019 @ 7:18am 
@marstinson So it shouldn't be asking me for any key? This is the third prompt for the key that I had to fill out lol. And I will try uninstalling everything. Thanks for the response x3
marstinson  [author] Jul 24, 2019 @ 10:31pm 
@andrewbluemoon27 : The guide is old (so am I, now that I think about it), but we'll take a shot. I'm not sure that I'm understanding the problem correctly because if you're downloading through Origin, it should not ask for a CD key (you already furnished it/them to get the stuff added to your Origin library). Product keys still get used when you install from physical media, but mixing and matching physical media with Origin's digital stuff shouldn't be an issue as long as the base game is patched to 1.69. My initial guess is that there is something messed up in your installation, so clear out everything (including user files), run a registry cleaner, and start from a clean download from either Origin or Steam. If that's not fixing it, post over on the official help forum at (it's under legacy games at the bottom).
andrewbluemoon27 Jul 24, 2019 @ 8:22pm 
I see that this thread is like 5 years old but its worth a try.
recently bought Sims 3 on Steam! yay. Everything was working for the migration including redeeming my CD Key on the Sims 3 website. I was able to download Sims 3 but when I opened the Sims 3 program. It asks for my CD Key for the like third time, and this time, it does not work. An error message pops-up. I have contacted 3 different EA representatives with questions asking why this is happening and they have not been useful at all. I was wondering if any of you could help me out?
Thank you so much for your time
marstinson  [author] Jan 22, 2019 @ 11:28am 
@gummyshark15: yes and no. You can't do it on your Mac because Steam won't serve up the product keys to a Mac. If you have access to a PC, however, you can log into Steam and retrieve them. My understanding is that you need to download the game files before Steam will serve up the product keys, but I have been told that access from a PC is all that is necessary, so use a friend's PC to log in to your Steam account through the Steam client. Then register they keys through Origin and download the Mac version.
Tortle15 Jan 21, 2019 @ 4:22pm 
I'm on mac, and I realized after installing and purchasing the game that I could not play it, but I hear that it could be played on origins. Unfortunatly I am unable to find any kind of game code at all. Is there a way I can transfer my game from steam to origins on mac without the code?
Draonslayr10 Jul 6, 2016 @ 4:56pm 
ok thanks for the help
marstinson  [author] Jul 6, 2016 @ 2:53pm 
@*Hunter*: unfortunately that will not work. Steam will not accept Origin product keys for TS3. This is EA's rules, not Steam's, if I understand it correctly. And I'm not sure that it's possible to make Origin content work with Steam through registry edits. Physical discs, yes (see NetPCDoc's guide here on Steam), but not Origin digital stuff. About all you can do is add a shortcut to your Origin game in your Steam library, but the game remains tied to Origin, especially after the 1.69 patch last year.
*Hunter* Jul 6, 2016 @ 2:14pm 
Well, for now the sims 3 has stopped crashing with two mods, but if im going to get an expansion packs, ill do it on origin, then ill add it as a non-steam game
marstinson  [author] Jul 5, 2016 @ 11:51pm 
@roberteanderson9: True, but not true. Sounds weird, but bear with me. While it is true that your Steam base game will not accept Origin expansions and vice versa, your Steam product keys can be registered with Origin and you'll get copies of that content it in your Origin library. So register your base game and you have a copy in both your Steam library and your Origin library. Use whichever you prefer.
Draonslayr10 Jul 5, 2016 @ 7:26pm 
I'm slightly confused because I heard that you need to get a completely new base game for the game to work on origin but I don't know if that's ture or not