Who Needs War? Sparks Will Fly in EA’s New Sims Game for Facebook.

E3 is typically reserved for announcing blockbuster, mega-million-dollar game titles, but in this case, Electronic Arts is showing its full range of capabilities by not only unveiling its response to Activision’s Call of Duty, but also by bringing one of its biggest brands to Facebook: The Sims.

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.

In addition to Battlefield 3 and The Sims, EA screened the latest Mass Effect 3, the upcoming Need for Speed (including foot races for the first time!), and, of course, Star Wars, its highly anticipated massive online multi-player game.

For Xbox this morning, a wider audience meant announcing a ton of Kinect titles, and for EA this afternoon, it meant announcing the release of its very popular Sims franchise on Facebook.

Sims Social is building off a brand that’s 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. Now you can play with your friends on Facebook, too.

Players will be presented with challenges, such as forming romantic relationships, flirting, joking and getting married. In this case, they’ll have the chance to play with Facebook friends, causing all sorts of real-life sparks to fly. For example, players will have the chance at participating in a royal wedding, to build a dream home or take a shower with their lover. In addition, they will be able to play pranks or achieve goals, such as having 10 girls in the hot tub at the same time.

Who needs Battlefield 3 when you can begin World War 3 among your friends, right?

The game is expected to launch “soon” in five languages with a mobile companion app coming later. “It’s about playing with life and the unpredictability of life,” said Jeff Karp, Executive Vice President of the EA Play Label.

The game will be free to play and users will be given the option of paying for virtual goods, such as clothes for your avatar and items for your home.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik