EA Mobile, a division of Electronic Arts, is raring to go on the Windows Phone 7 platform and has announced the first batch of EA games to ship on WP7 devices this fall. EA's titles will be Xbox LIVE enabled, allowing users to track and share scores with leaderboards, unlock Achievements, add to their Gamerscore, and communicate with other Xbox Live users across the Xbox 360, PC, and WP7.
"Our collaboration with Microsoft brings EA’s world-class catalog of global game franchises to Windows Phone 7, offering a unique set of gaming features perfectly suited to the deep, innovative experiences we value at EA," said Travis Boatman, vice president of Worldwide Studios for EA Mobile. "We see consumers deeply integrating devices into their lives and entertainment in new ways every day. Challenging your Xbox Live friends to an EA game from the phone in your pocket keeps you connected and having fun no matter where you are."
The first wave of games will include Need for Speed: Undercover, Tetris, The Sims 3, and Monopoly. EA won't be the only publisher to support gaming on the WP7 platform, however. According to Microsoft, EA will be joined by a handful of studios, including Micrsosoft Game Studios, Gameloft, Konami, Namco Bandai, PopCap, and THQ. Microsoft says you can expect new titles each week.
By now, when people think of The Sims franchise, they think of a virtual dollhouse in which you guide little idiot people through the mundane details of their lives rather than living your own.
That reputation is both well-deserved and unjust. Now in its third iteration, you still have to worry about getting your Sims to a bathroom before they wet themselves. On the other hand, it can be so addictive that it often feels like there’s someone watching you on his PC monitor, selecting you, then clicking on your computer and choosing “Keep playing The Sims 3” from your radial menu. If you’re lucky, he’ll let you go to the bathroom.
Fundamentally, The Sims 3 is a very similar game to its predecessors: You juggle the needs and wants of a family of Sims to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise. What has changed is the revolutionary increase in scale. Previous Sims games locked you into a single lot, and if you wanted to take your Sims elsewhere you’d have to sit through an epic-length loading screen. The Sims 3 loads an entire town, which both frees your Sims to stroll down the street or drive across town, and expands the number of characters living in the world at once from a handful to dozens, simulating an entire community. The ability to quickly zoom out and view the whole area alone puts this version head and shoulders above The Sims 1 and 2.
We don’t just mean PC games, either. Even console games couldn’t stand against the shockingly legal substance that is The Sims 3. And we’re talking retail sales here, too. That’s console turf! Guys in the audience, we’re sure you once told your younger sisters that playing with fake guns was way cooler than fiddling around with dolls. Well, based on the way The Sims 3 (820,000 copies sold) trounced console best-seller Prototype (419,000 copies sold), we’d say you were dead wrong.
The full PC game sales list is below:
The Sims 3 (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 3 Collector's Edition (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Blizzard Entertainment)
World of Warcraft Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
WarCraft III Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
SimCity Box (Maxis, Electronic Arts)
Diablo Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
The Sims 2: Apartment Life (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
Prototype (Radical Entertainment, Activision)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion GOTY Edition (Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Terminal Reality, Atari)
Sickening, really. EA’s Simpire continues its conquest, and even Reel Deal Slots Adventure couldn’t stand in its way. So, how long do you think The Sims 3 will hold its position in the PC sales top ten? For brevity's sake, we'll take the liberty of adding a "billion" to whatever number of months you go with. As a conservative estimate, obviously.
Having your main moneymaker relentlessly plundered roughly 200,000 times weeks before its release should be no laughing matter, but that’s not stopping Sims 3 publisher EA from having the last laugh while ostensibly losing thousands of dollars.
"You identified our secret marketing campaign!" EA boss John Riccitiello said jokingly of Sims 3’s recent theft. "That was a very large scale – concentrated on Poland and China – demo program."
"In the game that was pirated there's [only] one city [out of two]... and Sims 3 has a massive amount of content, and a lot of it is downloaded once you register with EA... and join the online community" he explained. "So you get that content in addition to the second city [which is downloadable for people who register], and that's a major component... A huge amount of the gameplay is an overlay for the community, where you are sampling assets created by other people".
The hope, then, is that pirates will chomp onto EA’s lure and get hooked into spending money on the features they’re missing. So basically, it’s like a bigger demo.
Not a bad idea, either – and not unlike the moneymaking strategies free-to-play MMOs tend to employ, where the game costs jack, but the good content costs George, Abe, and a bunch of other presidents. Also, some unsolicited advice for EA -- Let pirates’ Sims live as kings, with the exception of two items: swimming pools and swimming pool ladders. Or just remove the ability for things to catch on fire. We don’t know about you, but those features alone would make us drop the full 50 bones.
If your strict 2009 gaming schedule absolutely required that you give Sims 3 a day-one download and light tiny people on fire until Dragon Age: Origins’ “early 2009” release date, prepare to cancel that fake encounter with mononucleosis (followed by a string of extra long-lasting colds due to your “weakened immune system”), because the two games have run away together into the latter part of 2009.
“The June launch combined with the break-through game the team is building gives us the perfect runway to create awareness for The Sims 3,” said EA marketing boss Russell Arons.
Meanwhile, Dragon Age: Origins, as with any good BioWare game (the only non-delayed BioWare game, for reference) slipped big time and will be bed-ridden until EA’s third quarter, which runs from October 1 to December 31. Apparently, the delay will allow EA to more properly market to the Baldur’s Gate-esque RPG’s PC version alongside its console cousins.
"I'm really proud of our team, who are working very hard to make Dragon Age: Origins the biggest and most exciting BioWare game yet, and we will work to ensure it not only meets, but exceeds the expectations of our loyal audience," said CEO Ray Muzyka.
Kinda rubbing salt in the wound, aren’t you there, Muzyka? Something tells us this won’t be an easy wait.