The Sims Social is still a top five game on Facebook, according to AppData, but it was so damn close to fulfilling one of our predictions for 2011. EA and Playfish's incredibly strong answer to Zynga threatened to topple CityVille's ivory tower just months ago, but failed. So, where did the momentum go? Is The Sims Social simply a victim of the common decline almost all social games suffer over time, or can something be done to reverse the damage and take the fight back to Zynga?
Sure, EA could increase cross-promotion of The Sims Social across its existing Playfish and PopCap-made social games (not to mention increase advertisement efforts in EA properties across the board). But we think there are changes to be made within the game that could draw former players back in. Here are three ways to The Sims Social could take the fight back to CityVille:
Time to Go Mobile
And no, not just because all the cool kids are doing it. The Sims Social once had an incredible amount of daily players, and we're sure more daily players would have stuck around if they could somehow access their "Little Me in Little Haven" through their iPhone or Android phone. How great would it be to tend to the more boring aspects of The Sims Social, like leveling up your Sim's writing or music skills, while in a meeting or in line at the grocery store?
The Sims FreePlay came dangerously close to this, and frankly we're surprised this version was released before a FarmVille mobile-esque version of The Sims Social hit the iPhone. The fact that The Sims FreePlay, while obviously not created by Playfish, has no connection to the Facebook game whatsoever is a sorely missed opportunity to both keep existing players interested and perhaps rekindle old flames.
Support Your Artists
Most successful social games tend to have an inspiring effect on their players, and The Sims Social is no exception. Just take a look at the vibrant tile art and stacking communities, and you'll see what we mean. Now, this isn't to say that Playfish doesn't recognize its more creative players at all--a glance at the game's many forum contests will attest to that. But we're talking about something far more integrated and unprecedented in simulator-style social games.
If Playfish were to introduce game mechanics to The Sims Social that helped recognize these artists game-wide--not just on the forums or the game's Facebook fan page--that would set The Sims Social leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. For instance, imagine being able to take snapshots of your own stacking or tile artwork in the game and submit them to a weekly contest. All of the submissions would be viewable from within the game through, say, a Sim's TV and voted upon. The winners would then have their work featured on a daily bulletin for all to see. Inspire players to keep creating, competing and thus playing.
To that end, players simply need more things to do in The Sims Social. Since the game's launch, new quests and items have been introduced almost every week, but it's sad to say that's not enough. Players need drastic change to remain interested, and by "drastic" we mean game-changing content.
If your Sim could work a job, drive a car to new places and own a vacation home, would that not get you excited to play The Sims Social again? Playfish's social life simulator brought new ideas to the table when it came to intimate, asynchronous interaction between friends. Perhaps some sort of public asynchronous interaction is in order. What if Sims could hit up the bar or club and somehow asynchronously interact with multiple friends at the same time?
The long and short of it is this: We're obviously no game designers, but we are players of social games, and we know what (at least some of) the players might want. While a lot of these issues are those of scale when compared to the mighty Zynga, The Sims Social made it this far. And if Playfish wants to continue to compete on that level, it needs to provide content and features of that scale.
What do you think The Sims Social needs to thrive in the high end of the top five again? Does Playfish's best game yet have a chance of challenging CityVille again? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.