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The Sims prepare good future: players to interact via web
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Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:10 am Reply and quote this post
The Sims - the best-selling computer game of all time and one of the first toexperiment with the idea of virtual communities – may part with traditionand let players interact with one another using the web.
A senior executive at Electronic Arts (EA), the company which owns the Simsfranchise, said that in light of the popularity of virtual worlds and othercomputer games which allow players to compete with each other via the web,the Sims may soon become a multi-player game.
Nancy Smith, head of the Sims Division at EA, said that the company, one ofthe world's largest game publishers, "would continue to invest in more andmore robust community features" in the Sims. Two spin-offs from thefranchise, including one called Sims on Stage, in which players competeagainst one another in singing and dancing contests, have incorporatedonline elements.
A move into the territory traditionally inhabited by so-called massivelymultiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft would signalthe effect the web is having on community-based games such as the Sims.


Ms Smith said that an online element "could be of interest" to the game's fanbase, and that the game's producer would "definitely think about it,"although it wasn't what the company had on the market at the moment. "We'reconstantly exploring new kinds of content and experiences," she said.
In The Sims, which has sold 100 million copies worldwide since its releaseeight years ago, players nurture the lives of virtual people known as Sims,taking control of every activity in their life, including their sleeping,eating and washing habits. The original designer, Will Wright, conceived ofthe game as 'a digital doll's house'.
To date The Sims has been a single-player game, meaning that players cannotmeet and interact with one another 'in game', though they are able to shareideas and content - such as furniture that they design for the houses theirSims live in - using online forums.
In the past couple of years - since the rise of social networking sites andother web-based communities, The Sims has faced competition from computergames that allow players to interact with one another in real time using theweb, such as World of Warcraft, which has ten million players, and thevirtual world Second Life.
Ms Smith was adamant, however, that The Sims would not break wholly with itspast, and would continue to require players to buy and install software ontheir machines before being able to play. Some virtual worlds, such as ClubPenguin and Habbo Hotel, can be played entirely within a web browser.
She said that the complex graphics and tools in the game, which allow playersto create their own animated movies, were too complicated to be managedwithin a browser. "Just because you can paint with coloured markers becausethey're the new technology doesn't mean everyone wants to,” she said. “Somepeople prefer to paint with luscious oils."
Quote:

The Sims franchise would also continue to explore new revenue models that havebecome associated with virtual worlds, she said, including sponsorship andthe sale of 'virtual goods', as on the fashion-focused virtual world forteens, Stardoll.com.
At present, all the virtual furniture and other goods that can be downloadedin the Sims is free, although EA has recently announced a partnership withIkea, the furniture chain, which will allow players to download a fixedquantity of Ikea-branded furniture for £14.99. A similar deal is in placewith H&M, the fashion retailer.
"Micro-transactions will be important, but I think people will continue to pay[a one-off fee] for client software," Ms Smith said. "If you think about thehours of entertainment people get from interactive entertainment, you'llfind that software is enormously well-priced. I don't think we'reexperiencing price ceilings just yet."
Ms Smith dismissed suggestions that The Sims, which markets itself as acreative community in which users can showcase film-making, design and otherartistic talent, was threatened by social networking sites such as MySpaceand Facebook, which allow people to upload all manner of user-generatedcontent.
"MySpace is like an open gallery where you can hang things, but The Sims isactually allowing you to paint," she said, adding that more than 100,000animated films made using The Sims' own tools had now been uploaded toYouTube.

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