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Can EA’s The Sims compete with Roblox and Fortnite in the metaverse?

Industry Commentary

While the vast majority of brands looking to license their IP into video games or the metaverse are focusing on integrations and experiences within Fortnite and Roblox, there are some well-established video game franchises with enormous potential. 

Video game publisher EA, had its Q3 2023 earnings call at the end of January, and The Sims 4 was one of the company’s biggest earners. Digiday spoke to EA’s SVP and general manager Samantha Ryan, in a fascinating discussion about branded experiences in the game, and how The Sims is building on the demand for user-generated content that has been so integral to the growth of Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite. 

While the aforementioned games have been slowly repositioning themselves as metaverse platforms due to their ability to integrate so seamlessly with brands, Digiday points out that EA didn’t mention the metaverse once on its earnings call. 

Does this mean EA isn’t interested in taking a slice of the metaverse pie? Not exactly. Right now, The Sims is still firmly rooted in the traditional simulation experience that players have come to know and love since its original launch back in 2000. This means that outside of building your dream house and environment, it doesn’t offer brands, licence holders and creators the same levels of development flexibility as Roblox, Fortnite or Minecraft. 

That said, there’s still massive potential for brands and IP thanks to the in-game tools that allow brands and players to create user-generated content such as clothing and furniture. Ryan also tells Digiday that The Sims’ developers are “well aware of the inherently social nature of today’s leading metaverse platforms”.

While the branded experiences in Roblox are created by third-party developers and not by Roblox directly, many of the branded experiences in The Sims, such as its collaborations with Depop and Moschino, are created in partnership through Maxis, the developer responsible for The Sims. 

This means it’s not as easy to simply launch your IP or brand into The Sims, but those lucky enough to pursue such partnerships can reap plenty of benefits. The Sims 4 has 33 million players who spent 1 billion combined hours playing the game in 2021. EA also moved The Sims to a free-to-play model for The Sims 4, encouraging more people to check out the game. 

Alongside branded clothing, furniture and item packs, player-created mods that allow The Sims players to tinker with their gaming experience by adding new gameplay features are also proving popular. These mods are available through the CurseForge platform thanks to EA’s partnership with Overwolf, which means they’re still moderated and curated. 

The CEO of Overwolf tells Digiday: 

“We believe that UGC is the future of gaming. Gamers get more content, mod authors are recognised and rewarded for their creations and publishers can outsource content creation in a way that is safe, while fostering engagement.” 

These early experiments with mods combined with the success of their branded partnerships prove that The Sims 4 has a lot of potential as a future metaverse platform if it decides to open the franchise up to more experimental and UGC experiences. 

“We have already done branded packs with ‘The Sims 4.’ We’ve done clothing brands, we’ve done big brands, we’ve done community collaborations. We will do more over time — we’re just dipping our toes in now,” Ryan tells Digiday.


Read the episode transcript here

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