EA Building Up Its Facebook Empire — This Time With SimCity Social

Electronic Arts is hoping to hit the restart button this year on its Facebook strategy by bringing one of its biggest brands to the social network.

“We have high aspirations and high hopes for this one,” said Jami Laes, VP of Global Studios for Playfish, EA’s social games studios.

As part of the company’s E3 press conference this afternoon, it is unveiling SimCity Social for Facebook, where players pretend to be the mayor of their very own city.

All Things D began live coverage about an hour ago, but you may be able to catch the tail end of the live stream on Spike TV.

Leave it to a game company to not give up after getting beat the first time it challenged Zynga on the Facebook platform.

As you may recall, last year EA used the annual videogame conference to announce The Sims Social, which it hoped would push the company to the top of the Facebook charts.

For a short period, the game indeed did spectacularly, attracting 30 million players a month soon after launching. At that level, it beat FarmVille, one of Zynga’s most popular games, and helped to make EA the second-largest developer on Facebook.

But a year later, the Sims Social doesn’t even register in the top 25 and EA has fallen to fourth place.

In general, EA believes it can leverage big brands, like the Sims, Monopoly and Scrabble, to catch up to Zynga on the Facebook platform. But so far, Zynga has been able to dominate the charts through established games like FarmVille, CityVille and Poker.

In an interview, EA’s John Riccitiello told All Things D that he wished the Sims Social had sustained longer, but promised that at today’s press conference EA would be making introductions that will make your “eyeballs peel.”

In addition to SimCity, it also will show off several other game announcements for the game consoles and PCs.

To be sure, EA’s SimCity brand is the undisputed leader in city-building simulators, making this launch pivotal to the company’s success.

As with other versions of the game, the Facebook edition challenges players to act as a virtual mayor, constructing roads, buildings and streets from the ground up to make a city. But unlike other versions of the game, players will get to collaborate with friends, deciding to either build a friendly relationship with another city or a rivalry.

For instance, Laes said, a player may go to dinner with a friend and will have the choice to make it a nice evening or to sabotage it by throwing up on the table; likewise, you can send a seagull attack to your friend’s city, unleashing poop bombs on the city’s rooftops.

“It’s suitable for the platform. It’s rewarding and fun and surprising,” said Laes, who was surprisingly stoic discussing such subjects as “poop” and “throw up.”

The social game will launch soon on an unspecified date. It also precedes the launch of the new SimCity for the PC, which is expected to hit stores in February 2013.


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