Today EA released a new piece of free DLC for SimCity, the Nissan Leaf Charging station. Note that this is free but it has got much of the Sim City community all riled up.
Advertising in games is usually something I don’t like to see, you paid for the game so why should you be subjected to it in-game to enhance the game experience? Advertising in games generally doesn’t work unless it’s in some sort of modern or futuristic setting. SimCity falls into the category of “yes it works”, it doesn’t look weird in-game and also another possible revenue stream for EA and Maxis.
Is this a slippery slope for SimCity? The thinking is that after shelling out the $60 for the game it’s yours. If EA/Maxis want to add free DLC to the game it should be exactly that, free with no slogans attached. To illustrate the new content, this how it’s being sold to players:
“Need an extra incentive to go green in SimCity? Maybe you need a little boost in the form of the new Nissan Leaf Charging Station that is available starting 4/2/2013. This free in-game item is the perfect way to kick start your desire to create a city that will make you (and your Sims) happy. In the case of your Sims, the Charging Station provides happiness to the Sims that use it and a one-time wave of happiness to the nearby businesses. Need another bonus? It produces no sewage or garbage. That’s right! Green indeed.
The charging station is an excellent idea for DLC, it will enhance my green city greatly but am I wanting to see Nissan every time I shoot by the building. Well not really, no. Does it ruin the gameplay? No it doesn’t. The principle for the type of DLC is fine and works well with SimCity. Do I feel a little annoyed that to use that DLC in the game I have to keep reading Nissan? Well, yes slightly. SimCity fans have shelled out for the game already so why the adverts?
When we walk around any town or city we are bombarded with advertising on billboards, shop fronts and posters. Perhaps the addition household names on adverts in SimCity will actually make cities feel more realistic. It’s one way to look at it.
There are also two sides to the argument. If players want DLC to be free then this is one way to go. If on the other hand players would rather pay for it, then this advertising DLC is not ideal. Could an advertising free version of the same DLC be released for a small price? They probably looked at that as option but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.
Today’s DLC could end up being a problem for EA and Maxis who have already alienated some of the fan base due to the bugs and launch issues, some of which still need to be fixed.
Are we going to see Coke Towers, Burger King or god forbid stores like Poundland? More than likely I would say. However, if it goes too far, gamers may opt to hit the uninstall button.
This first piece of free DLC could just be testing the water, but I think we can expect to see more branded content in the weeks and months ahead.