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Will In Game Ads Destroy The Sims 3?

Updated on June 6, 2010
Sims are unimpressed at the idea of being sold to whilst they play games they paid for.
Sims are unimpressed at the idea of being sold to whilst they play games they paid for.

One of the biggest scandals in The Sims 3 community is the horrid specter of in-game advertising. There have been rumors going around for some time that EA was planning to put advertising in The Sims 3, and indeed, some news reports that EA signed contracts with various companies before The Sims 3 base game was even released.

Oh the horror!

The Sims 3 Goes All-Out On Advertising

 In-game advertising to enhance The Sims 3 experience, according to EA.

Electronic Arts has never been shy to flirt with the commercial world as far as The Sims is concerned. While the franchise has seen branded content in the past from the likes of IKEA and H&M, EA has now declared its aspiration to maximise the business potential of The Sims as a brand in the game’s upcoming third iteration.

Electronic Arts’ plans for ‘The Sims 3’ include a swathe of new opportunities for branded content, including - for the first time in the franchise’s history - fully integrated in-game advertising. Courtesy of IGA Worldwide, the game will feature dynamic billboards and posters at “public” locations in-game such as movie theatres.

Steve Seabolt, VP of global brand development for The Sims said: “Advertising is very organic to the ‘Sims 3’ experience. Suppose your Sim had a tough day, or the Sim kids are out of control. That could be the moment for a particular [brand of] pain relief. Then they take that pain relief and feel restored, better rested... less on edge.”


Now when these stories broke, people threw their train sets and thus far, there have been no dynamic billboards or posters in cities and very little advertising of any kind at all. (Note that I said 'very little', because yes, some snuck in even before the first expansion pack came out.

Does EA have the right to use The Sims 3 as a platform for advertising? Heck no. I've personally spent over $200 on the game and its expansions (and a little bit of store content, even though I swore up and down that I wouldn't do that) and having paid for the game, I expect it to be ad free.

Advertising is to be expected on free content. If EA allows everyone to download The Sims 3 and its expansions for free and supports itself with in game advertising, more power to it. I will, of course, expect a refund for all the money I've spent on actually buying the game.

People bought a product when they bought The Sims 3, and like any product we buy, we don't expect it to sell things to us once we own it. If you bought a car, you'd be pretty unimpressed if the bottom half of the GPS tried to sell you painkillers.

Is there a way advertising can be integrated into The Sims 3 without destroying the game as we know it (and no doubt converting hundreds of thousands of paying customers into pirates, who won't only get the game for free, but will get it sans advertising)?

Yes, and they've already done it. Before World Adventures came out there was the option to download a Fanta branded fridge from the store and a SpongeBob Computer. That's the sort of advertising I don't mind. Why? Because it is optional and it is free. If companies can find ways to offer free content that has some advertising value and the player has the option to put it in their game or not put it in their game, I'm fine with that, and I think most Sims' players would be as well. It is the awful idea of turning our property into a device to sell things to us that turns our stomachs.

Free branded content? Yes. Mandatory advertisements in game? No! Oh heck no!

Next time we'll discuss the new 'data logging' capabilities that were introduced with the Ambitions expansion. Is it ethical for EA to turn our computers into messengers delivering information without our say so? There is an option for turning data logging off, but at the time of writing, many users with firewall software reported that turning data logging off doesn't actually stop the game from trying to transmit data.

Less evil please, EA.


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