While The Sims series has been nothing short of a mega-blockbuster hit for Maxis and publisher EA—well over 70 million(!) copies and expansions have gone out the door—The Sims Online didn’t exactly win over the hordes of people who like living fake lives offline. The game stagnated just 11 months after its release, received no new updates and largely faded into obscurity.
But EA is bringing it back. Free.
EA Land will now host the original The Sims Online content, bringing a slew of new features to the massively multiplayer online game. The team at Maxis is now allowing user created custom content, ushering in a new economy, and adding new web services and social networking tools. New Facebook apps and widgets are now available for anyone who wants to have their real life more depressingly connected to their Sim life.
You can read about all the new changes (in Comic Sans!) at the official site or read further for official word from the dev team.
What is EA-Land? [EA Land]
Dear Former Member of The Sims Online,
I would like to introduce you to EA-Land, an online world that is free-to-play, and based on a re-engineered The Sims Online architecture. Yes, FREE.
We have played The Sims Online together, my avatar is MaxisLuc (yes, I work for Maxis/EA.) I wanted you to know that at the beginning of last year, I assembled a team to improve The Sims Online. After months of ongoing hard work, we can proudly say that we have been successful and we have made this game fun again! I am writing to you because I would like to invite you to rejoin us in the game. You can come back for free right now by REACTIVATING your old account at this page http://ea-land.ea.com/register/free.php and then by downloading the game from the same link. Most likely, your Sim is no more, but if you come back to the game this month, you will get your earned privileges back (gifts, skill locks etc. in EA-Land) when we run our amnesty program at the end of the month. Today you can play for free in our test city called ‘Test-Center 3’, in a few days you will be able to also play for Free in the ‘EA-Land’ city.
EA-Land will host all of The Sims Online cities.
The Sims Online was made of 12 different cities (AlphaVille, Blazing Falls, etc..) and we are moving all of those cities inside EA-Land (this is called ‘the merge’ by the users!). We have a huge new map: it is 100 times bigger than the previous size of any city. We had to add a whole new zoom level to let users see it. The internet is faster now, so we have been able to let each house have more simultaneous visitors. A lot of new users are constantly joining us and we expect more. As you have played TSO before, I think that you ought to own your lot in this new land, and I want you to have the ability to grab the best location before we open the gates. As an EA-Land subscriber, you will be able to have several Sims in the same ‘city’ unlike in TSO where you were limited to one Sim per city.
RE-designed with Smart Users
We have a blog (http://www.tso-e.com ) where we explain all the things we are working on and the events we are running in the game. We also have a very active wiki web site (http://www.game-blueprints.com ) managed by the community where you can work with others to design the game. We have already implemented many features designed by the users! The stratics forum community continues to be very active. We have made some big changes to the game, and many more are coming over the next few months. It is difficult to say which of the recent changes are the most important as users have
different reasons to play the game, but let me tell you about the changes that I particularly like:
Users now have the ability to upload custom content. Like in the original Sims game, the goal is to let you customize the game completely, but in EA-Land you can see and buy the customizations of the other players! Players have already uploaded several thousands pieces of custom content. I suspect that by some time this year, all of the content of the game will have been replaced many times over by custom content. We started with the ability to upload bitmaps (easiest for the new creative users), then moved on to chairs and sculptures. You can now make your own portraits in the game and “skin”
objects like in Sims2 by using your own images. Because we are approving all of the content, this user content is safe to be viewed by everyone! We are working with the main user web sites that have been providing custom content to the Sims users for years (e.g. http://www.TheSimsResource.com) to make sure that their content will be made available in the game.
We heard from the community that the economy was broken in TSO. That was true, too many users were billionaires, and the goal of the game was mostly about extracting money from Maxis. I can now say with satisfaction that we have fixed the economy on EA-Land. This took many features, from establishing a real estate market, where users can easily buy or sell lots to one another, and a dynamic object pricing market where the prices of objects purchased from Maxis is based on supply and demand, enabling stores and entrepreneurs to earn a living. We also enabled users to buy simoleans directly from Maxis. While there is no need for users to do so in the game (we give subscribers simoleans every week), it can help new users build their dream house faster with a simple paypal transaction secured by us.
Web Services and Social Networks
The internet has changed so much since the launch of The Sims Online in December 2002, we had to change the way we think about online games. We have opened the access to most of the in game information to the internet through web services. For example this enables you to add Google or Yahoo widgets to your computer (or iPhone! ) and see if your favorite lots or friends are online. We are providing you with privacy settings so you can decide if or which of your avatars will broadcast what information to the internet. Sims User web sites are already using this feature to create some amazing community sites. We also built avatarbook, to show how that information can be seen and connected to social web sites like Facebook © (login to the “avatar book” application at http://apps.facebook.com/avatarbook where you can search for MaxisLuc’s profile page)
And there’s more to come! We are looking forward to seeing you back in the game and having fun with us again!