EA’s Sims Social Comes to Life on Facebook

Electronic Arts is committed to driving a large percentage of its revenues from digital platforms over the next year.

Facebook is a big part of that, but as the seventh largest developer on the platform, and with only 12 percent as many active monthly users as Zynga, it has a long way to go.

It believes the solution is leaning on its deep catalog of brands — something Zynga and many others can’t compete with. So far, it’s launched Monopoly Millionaires, FIFA Superstars and Scrabble.

The next one, officially launching today, is The Sims Social.

Sims Social is a brand with a lot of history. It’s been played by 140 million fans in 22 languages in 60 countries around the world. To date, it has been available on the PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Wii and mobile.

Electronic Arts originally unveiled the game at E3 in June. To put the social game in context, I wrote at the time:

One of the most anticipated launches of the year is EA’s Battlefield 3, which is expected to go head to head with the seemingly unstoppable Call of Duty franchise. But at the company’s eardrum-splitting press conference in downtown Los Angeles, it also showed off The Sims, which is reflective of a wider trend in the industry to embrace other platforms.

With the launch of Sims on Facebook, EA is promising that your social life will never be the same. Given the game has the potential to create some very awkward moments with your friends and partners, that’s hardly an overstatement.

Players will be presented with challenges, such as forming romantic relationships, flirting, joking and getting married. They can build dream homes, take showers together, or play pranks or achieve goals, such as having 10 girls in the hot tub at the same time.

At E3, I wrote: “Who needs Battlefield 3 when you can begin World War 3 among your friends?”

There’s no requirement to “marry” your real-life wife or husband, or boyfriend or girlfriend, which could cause all sorts of real-life sparks to fly. If you can imagine slapping your husband (or the other woman) after reading about his latest accomplishments in his news feed, don’t worry, you can do that in the game, too.

EA is hoping the high intensity situations will lead to explosive growth.

The game, which is available in five languages, was technically launched today, but has been around in beta for awhile. It won the 2011 Best Browser Game Award at Gamescom in Germany this week, and it topped this week’s list of fastest-growing games by daily active users, according to InsideSocialGames.com. It has roughly 1.45 million daily active users on Facebook, gaining 2,287 percent compared to last week.

Sims Social will be free to play and will monetize both through virtual goods and in-game advertising, such as items from Dr Pepper, Dunkin’ Donuts and Toyota that can provide extra boosts and benefits when players need them.

This is not the first time the company has brought the PC game and console title to the Internet, but last time it failed.

John Buchanan, VP of Marketing at EA Play, said it’s been more than five years since that experiment and that this time they put in the time and energy to build something that both Sims fans and newcomers can enjoy.

“It is an incredibly exciting time for us. You have the No. 1 PC franchise and the No. 1 social network. It’s really exciting. It’s a game that is going to revolutionize social gaming and the Sims,” he said.

To build this game, EA’s Play Label teamed up with Playfish, its social games division. This marks the first time for a massive collaboration between the two groups, said CJ Prober, VP of publishing at Playfish.

“We used everything that the Sims team knows about the game for the past 10 years, and what works and what the fans love, and Playfish brought everything it knows about social gaming. It was a truly collaborative effort.”

Prober said development doesn’t stop today. Up next will be a mobile component that will allow users to stay in touch with their Facebook experiences while on the go.

That’s a good idea. That way, you can get out of the hot tub quickly before you get into real hot water.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google