Second Life News: The Sims Online Players May Choose Second Life

May 7th, 2008  |  Published in Second Life News

SLENTRE.COM Managing News Editor, Sigimund Leominster

By Sigmund Leominster, News Editor

On April 29th, players of the The Sims Online (TSO) discovered that their virtual world was about to come to an end. In an official posting on their blog, owners Electronic Arts (EA) announced that “It is with mixed emotions that today we are announcing the EA Land experiment will soon draw to a close. Since 2002, EA Land/(The Sims Online) has attracted a very special group of players… and we certainly appreciate your participation in the EA Land community. The lifetime of the game has drawn to an end, and now we will be focusing on new ideas and other innovative concepts in the games arena. We’d like to thank everyone who has taken part in this online community as a unique experience in the virtual world.”

The virtual world officially opened on December 17th, 2002, as an extension of the popular The Sims game. It ran until February 27th, 2008, when EA closed the servers and replaced it with EA Land. Up until then, there was a subscription fee of US$9.99 per month (€10.99 in Europe), but following the change, EA Land became a free playground. However, after only 2 months, EA pulled the plug and made the April 29th announcement. Technically, the world closes on August 1st, but many gamers are already leaving.

Reactions from residents of EA Land were, not unexpectedly, mixed.

The Good: “Thanks for giving it a go. Hope you find new exciting projects. I quite expected that this would not last. I see too many holes and flaws and it’s just too old to fix everything on that old code. You all did an amazing job with what you had to work with here.” From Heather Leslie.

The Bad: “I am sitting here stunned. I have been trying to think of what to say, but all I can do is sit here with a tear rolling down my cheek. Six years is a long time but I am proud of that. We have 5 accounts and that does amount to a lot of money. But we were faithful to the end. I really feel that we got the big stab in the back. I really thought we counted and mattered to EA, but now I know why they never helped me when I needed them and how they never even tried to get my properties back that were lost in the moves… thanks for nothing devs.. you do not rock in my book.” From rpsky3.

And the Ugly: “You lied to us. It’s pretty clear that you knew this was going to happen before now, so why didn’t you just tell us? You are a sick company whose only apparent goal is to steal the money of its customers. You put us through the agony of losing all our stuff, friends, and forcing us to adjust to this new world of ‘avatars’ and EAbucks or whateverthefrack they were. Then, out from our feet, you pull out the rug, letting us topple down into a never-ending pit of infinite sorrow. Screw you EA and every product you produce.” From StanBcCoff.

A number of commentators speculated that EA made the decision to close down the servers well before the change from TSO to EA Land. By removing the title of The Sims Online, EA could, allegedly, be actively working to preserve the intellectual property assigned to the Sim name. However, other pundits blamed the closure on EA’s inability to attract significant numbers of participants. One estimate from the Broken Toys blog suggested that there were only 8,000 residents when the change to EA Land happened. Some critics suggested that the game wasn’t, in fact, very good, with limited graphics, limited space, and poor game play.

Whatever the reason, many of the stranded are now looking for alternatives. Some have already switched to Second Life. New resident, Kimberly Kumel, explained her move:

“Daytona and I came here from The Sims Online game. We were there for four years but met each other almost five years ago. EA land is closing the doors so we looked around for another game. It’s not closing until August but he is pissed so not going there anymore. They got peeps to get involved in the game… and took the money monthly, knowing they were going to close down.”

One less virtual world is beneficial to the still-existing worlds, as they stand to welcome the “refugees” with open arms. However, there is also a cautionary tale here.  This tale highlights how critical it is to (a) increase participation, (b) provide enhanced game play, and (c) keep an eye on capital input. Meanwhile, many Second Lifers will have the opportunity to make some new friends.

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