image

The Sims Social on Facebook: Can EA Games Compete with Zynga?

Ever have the problem where you want to play The Sims but you can’t because you also have to check your e-mail and browse Amazon.com’s deal of day? Me too. All the time. Luckily, soon there will be a way to have your cake, eat it, and play The Sims on Facebook.

Electronic Arts, Inc. announced in a recent press release that the Sims will be invading the popular social media platform with a free, brand new application: The Sims Social. The application will basically be a low-resolution version of the PC software, but instead of interacting with non-playable townies, you get to play with your Facebook friends.

Here’s what you can expect:

While the trailer gives me the creeps, the concept still intrigues me. The Sims Social will be the first “play with your friends” game to rival Zynga’s (the makers of Farmville) success. But instead of just sending each other sheep or fertilizing crops, you can actually interact with each other. Got a cold and can’t go out? You and your girlfriends can hit the town…on the computer. Express weird feelings for your coworker by asking him out on a virtual date. The possibilities are endless!

At this time, The Sims Social has yet to premier on Facebook, but more than 430,000 people have ‘liked’ the application and it boasts 4.7 out of 5 in user reviews. Again, nobody can even play this game yet. But EA has brilliantly offered virtual objects like an easel or bookcase if their fans hit a set goal of ‘likes’ before the unveiling. Objects already created by EA designers are free to give out, but a valuable commodity for fans. When the game finally does premier, this ensures EA that at least 430,000 people will know and most likely, start playing. Mobile apps are also in development so that smart phone users can take care of their Sims on the go. (Looks like it’s time to restart my short-lived Tamagotchi babysitting business).

But don’t worry, if at any point you want to transfer back to the PC version of The Sims 3, you still have the opportunity to share your achievements on Facebook! I recently went to play Sims 3 – for the sole reason of finding more business takeaways, of course – and had to sit through a massive software update. Once finally in the game, I had my Sim play his guitar and BAM a pop up window told me that I should make a memory out of this accomplishment. I found that pointless, but was interested in the new feature, so I clicked ‘Yes.’ This click took me to another pop up window asking if I wanted to share the accomplishment on Facebook.

So this is the massive software update I had to sit through: a plug-in that will let me share my meaningless accomplishments on Facebook! And while this doesn’t appeal to me or other players my age, players in the 12-16 age bracket (you know, the ones that fill up your news feed with Playstation trophies and Farmville updates) will probably eat this up. After all, there’s nothing quite as gratifying as one-upping your Facebook friends with Sims 3 accomplishments:

“My Sim just made Autumn Salad!”

“Oh yeah? Well, my Sim just had a kid!”

“So what? My Sim just made it to level ten of the Rockstar career and bought a mansion in France, take that!”

EA has taken serious steps to integrate online social media games and traditional PC software while also expanding their brand. The Sims Social will introduce new players to the franchise who will hopefully branch out to the PC software, while engaging past PC software users to reconnect to the franchise. Whether from nostalgia or curiosity, I imagine many past and present PC players (myself included) will at least try out the application.

For the Facebook users that enjoy Sims Social and decide to sync their Sims 3 accomplishments to their profile, their pages will become free advertising for EA. Even if other users quickly block the application updates from their newsfeed, it won’t prevent them from seeing EA’s logo a few dozen times first. While it might not be the kindest use of social media, there’s no doubt that it will be effective.

And for the first time, Zynga will see some real competition in retaining Facebook players. While Zynga games are free and collectively entice 250 million players a month, users tire quickly of them. The Sims franchise has been around for ten years with multiple games and expansions. Even with new releases priced at forty dollars, EA can still interest longtime players. A free Facebook application based on a franchise with heavy fan fidelity has the potential to dominate social network gaming, forcing Zynga to rethink their gaming model if they want to stay competitive.

Do you think that EA’s blending of software and social media will help or hinder them? Will The Sims Social hold user attention or wither faster than raspberry plants on Farmville?

Image/screenshot from The Sims Social on Facebook. The Sims and The Sims Social are registered trademarks of EA Games. All rights reserved.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Doc

    While I do believe this innovation by EA will be a HUGE hit and attract millions of users, I am still creeped out / shocked by the amount of detail we can now put into our social media. It’s amazing to think about the little intricacies that have revolutionized social media and how it’s constantly changing. Very interesting article, Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I totally agree. As interested as I am in the application, I still find it a little creepy. Give it time, our entire Facebook profile will just devolve into an avatar.

  2. Amanda

    Another excellent Sims post Mandy! =) I think that EA is really keeping Sims relevant by releasing Sims 3 and now adding a Facebook feature. I’ve never played Farmville…but I just know that this Sims app will be better!

    I’m so happy that I upgraded to Sims 2–it’s so much fun! And I can’t wait to play Sims Social through Facebook….It’s something to try out for sure!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Don’t ever start Farmville. You’ll wait an entire summer planning your life around harvests and then sit back in the fall and wonder what you’ve done with yourself for the past 4 months.

      Not that I speak from experience, though…

  3. amy

    I’m so excited about this!! I have no idea where to start!! I used to play Sims on my PC, but never loaded it back on after I bought a new computer. I loved playing it and since I check my Facebook daily this will only fuel my addiction.

    I know you mentioned the amount of advertising EA will receive from this app, but I wonder if they’d do a partnership with other brands as well to increase revenue? Imagine your Sim ordering a Pizza Hut pizza and drinking a Coca-Cola. Craziness!

    I think this will catch on and most certainly give Zanga a run for their money. I was tired of watering my soybeans anyways ;)

    Terrific post Mandy!!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Oh wow. You know, it probably will only be a matter of time. I could see big brands wanting to jump into this immediately. Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t on the software yet. I mean, bands are already in the Sims! Tons of bands re-recorded their songs in ‘Simlish’ for Sims 2 AND 3.

      • amy

        Oh wow! I didn’t know that! Kind of cool… and yet kind of weird.

  4. Juliette

    Wow. I admit, I was always somewhat curious about the Sims games but my regular life is usually too busy for me to be able to keep up with a second virtual one (World of Warcraft doesn’t count!). I do play Farmville, if by play you mean hop online once to see what happened and then forget about it for at least 24 hours. Still, knowing how many folks love Farmville and its other brother and sister games, I’m willing to bet that the new Sims on FB will be a bit of a hit.

    And off topic, I used to have Tamagotchis ages ago! (my friend in high school who was from Japan had her parents send an extra one over for me) So glad I’m not the only one who remembers them. (And I just had to read about the whole “Tamagotchi Effect” after reading that wiki entry. How odd to find a name for that whole situation!)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I admit, I’ve played tons of Zynga and Playfish (which is now owned by EA, actually) games like it was my full time job. My farm was huge, my Frontierville city expansive, and my pet in Petville had every room in her house. But then, yeah, I got bored with all of them and went back to the Sims. And now I’ll have the Sims to play even on Facebook…

      Oh no, I remember my Tamagotchi well. I still even have it somewhere. I imagine that if I care for my Sims Social avatar on the go, I will have the same bliss from when I was 10.

      • Amanda

        I had a Tamagotchi too, but I always liked Giga Pets better. They were so much fun! We would all have keychains full of them at school. Teachers would send notes home asking us to leave them at home–but that is not possible, as you know, because they’d die. =( Amy says you can still buy them at Target…I might just check that out.

  5. Kyle

    That trailer was… a bit disturbing…

    But you can’t argue with the logic: Sims + Facebook = Profit

  6. Vern-Matic

    Video is blocked :’-(
    But I can only imagine what the feeds would be like:
    Hey Vernon’s Avatar just killed a cow and grilled steaks.
    Vernon’s Avatar needs your help raising a barn to house his bagpipe collection.
    Vernon’s Avatar can’t swim but thought it would be funny if he jumped in a 10ft pool of water and is dead now…
    As a user of the app Tweetdeck, I just see a lot of posts that I really could care less about.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      The video basically shows two coworkers on Facebook chat gossiping that a guy in their office is now single. And then one of the ladies invites him on a virtual date via The Sims Social.

      For the record, my avatar would come help raise your barn.

  7. cyberneticSAM

    Well I wish I could see the video, but alas I cannot. From the way you’ve described it, I am super excited about this. I love the Sims, however this is evil! I just cut down how much computer time I spend at home, so this game will without a doubt get me hooked and I will once again become a SIMS junkie and probably need an intervention at some point. I hope this does not deter them from making new SIMS games, if they have this many people excited about it, I hope it doesn’t interfere with game production as they have done for over a decade now.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I have also been trying to cut back on my computer time, but I’m afraid that when the application launches, I’ll be one of the first to log on.

      As far as I know, there is no sign of slowing down PC/console production. EA just released the expansion ‘Generations’ for the Sims 3, and an expansion with Pets is coming later this year. Then again, if the Sims Social explodes, it could be a matter of time.

  8. Jill Tooley

    I think it’s best if I don’t play the Sims Social, ever. It’ll end up consuming my life and I’ll turn into a hermit who only emerges from the basement long enough to grab an energy drink and some granola bars. Then, before I know it, all of my real friends will be gone and I’ll start going through withdrawals when I lose my job and can’t pay for internet service anymore. It’s a slippery slope for me, really…

    That being said, I think that EA could feasibly give Zynga a run for their money! It’s about time they had a new social media game champion, as far as I’m concerned. Sims Social will undoubtedly get more users than they’ll know what to do with. Farmville is ridiculously popular and they didn’t have the big name to go with it like EA does. I can’t wait to see how this pans out! Although, this does mean I’ll have to block one more app from my news feed…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      As long as your Facebook friends don’t leave, Jill, you’ll be set. :D

      EA is apparently already making headway on Facebook with a football simulation game that’s similar (but not too similar) to the Madden series. I don’t know many details, but my brother spent a long few months playing it obsessively with his friends.

  9. LK

    This video totally makes the Sims Social seem so creepy. But like you said, intriguing at the same time. I think it would be best that I don’t check this out, I’ll stick to the fake people in the Sims 2 if I need to get a Sims fix.

    However, I hope this does give Zynga some solid competition and a run for their money. I tried playing Farmville and was over it before my chickens even laid eggs..

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I also hope it gives solid competition. If this results in better quality online games for the users, it will all (probably) be worth it.

  10. Joseph Giorgi

    The social gaming space is gaining more and more traction every day. What’s surprising to me is that very few advertisers are taking advantage of it. I’ve read that McDonald’s and a few other reputable brands have plans for a social gaming presence of some sort, but I’m wondering why we don’t see more. After all, Gaga has done quite well for herself in FarmVille.

    Anyway, here’s my favorite bit:

    “A free Facebook application based on a franchise with heavy fan fidelity has the potential to dominate social network gaming, forcing Zynga to rethink their gaming model if they want to stay competitive.”

    Absolutely!

    I’m admittedly not into social gaming, but I’m liking the direction it’s headed. Zynga has needed a formidable competitor for a while now, and I’m glad EA is joining the fight to expand the possibilities. Maybe after a few more solid developers start making games for the social space, there will be something I’m interested in. When more of the big VG franchises start popping up on Facebook, I’ll be more interested.

    Random thought: Nintendo should be taking advantage of social gaming immediately. They’ve got a kid-friendly appeal that’s just waiting to explode online.

    Great post, Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I’m honestly surprised that Nintendo hasn’t done something yet. With Pokemon, the Mario brothers, and all the characters they collected from Sega, they could make something really interesting – a low-res version of Smash Bros, perhaps?

      I’m also waiting for the day when you can have your Mii play in a whole bunch of different Facebook games, too.

  11. Jana Quinn

    Love the overview of the evolution of Sims and the way it’s introducing additional features into social media.

    I think that low cost apps and free online games are going to overtake the $60 cartridge (does anything even use a cartridge anymore?) or disk version of gaming. The money will come from product placement, integrated advertising, and social media monetization.

  12. Tiffany

    I am a die hard fan of The Sims but like eveyone else that’s ‘liking’ their page on FB we are getting more and more upset. There are to many updates without the game. I personally ‘unliked’ it until the game comes out. I think their fans would be alot more calm if they gave us an approximate release date.

  13. Mandy Kilinskis

    I agree, Tiffany. While EA is generating tons of interest with the current page, it is aggravating that they still won’t give fans any kind of time frame for the release date. EA needs to be careful because I imagine lots of fans will react similarly, and they don’t want to lose any brand loyalty.

  14. Cathy

    It looks a lot like the Sims Online, this was a stand alone game that you played online and all the other sims were operated by other people around the world, sound familiar. A game EA released back around 2002 and finally ended in August 2009. It should be interesting to see how this one plays.

    I actually met my now husband in that game, we have been happily married for 5 years. We stopped playing the game after we finally got together “irl” in 2006, after 2 years of long distance communication. But we thought it was a cool way to live our lives “virtually” until we were able to actually be together (which involved me moving to the US from Australia).

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      That’s so exciting! I knew of but never tried the Sims Online. I heard it was exceptionally buggy and it seemed weird that EA would support something that devalued the Sims brand. However, I’m beyond pleased to hear that people found future husbands from the game. I guess that will be one draw back to the program: if you only play with your friends, how can you meet someone new?

  15. kaleb

    when will sims social actually let ppl marry and move in with eachother you cant right now

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hi Kaleb, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I don’t work for EA Games, Playfish, or Facebook, so I unfortunately don’t have any information about modifications of that kind. I imagine that based on the single player model, it’s not very likely that people will be able to move in together, but I honestly don’t know. I’m just going to keep playing the game and see what happens.

      Though I do have another blog about the Sims Social in the works, so check back soon!

  16. Keeping Customer Engagement the Sims Social Way

    [...] s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1); })();Over the summer, I wrote a post about the Sims Social coming to Facebook and what it would mean for EA’s branding and social media efforts. As an EA [...]

  17. Jewls

    I am having an error on facebook sims. its been since the french connection. I cant do anything! as soon as i log on the things come up to say whats going on and just after that eeror 3210 or what ever, Ive sent 6 e-mails and been on a help site which didnt help at all. they were trying to tell me to down load some cleaner pro stuff. I told them its not my computer cause my sister tried to sign in my sims game on hers and it did the same thing. Can I please get some help here with this?

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hi, Jewls. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      As I said before though, I do not work for EA Games, Playfish, or Facebook, and thus, I cannot help you with your error. If you’ve been emailing Facebook, I would try EA, or vice versa. I can only offer that you keep trying to contact them.

      Good luck getting everything resolved!

Leave a Comment