Electronic Arts has redubbed it “EA-Land,” but it’s The Sims Online relaunched for a new era: free, web-based, even some user-created content. Originally launched in 2002 as a multi-player spinoff of their astoundingly popular casual-crossover Sims franchise, EA (ERTS) expected the online version to do blockbuster sales, only to find it overshadowed by Second Life and other Web 2.0-era MMOs. Based on the site description, the company’s learned from these competitors, cannily leveraging some of their key features.
In addition to letting users “upload custom content,” EA-Land comes with a virtual real estate market, blog and wiki interaction, and most impressive, a widget for Facebook and other social sites. Given the success of low-res casual MMOs like Habbo Hotel or for that matter, the 13 million monthly active users on EA’s casual game Pogo site, this is a key property to watch.