The Sims Social, a reboot of Electronic Arts’ bestselling $4 billion games franchise, has only been out of beta since last Thursday — but it already has 4.6 million people playing it daily, according to AppData, a traffic tracking service from Inside Network.
That makes The Sims Social the number 10 app on Facebook overall, and the number 6 game behind Zynga hits CityVille, FarmVille, Empires & Allies, Texas Hold ‘Em, and Pioneer Trail. Not bad for a week’s work. At this rate, The Sims Social should overtake Facebook game leader CityVille (which has 14 million daily players) sometime in September.
If The Sims doesn’t ring any bells, or even if it does remind you of many hours of addictive domestic gameplay, you may want to stay far away from this app for the sake of your productivity. As in its PC-based predecessors, which sold more than 140 million copies, The Sims Social starts with you creating an avatar, your Sim, who is then dropped into a dollhouse-like environment. You can extend and upgrade the home by earning Simoleans, and you must manage your Sim’s needs by feeding them, sending them to bed or the bathroom, and having them interact with other Sims.
So far so ordinary. But here’s where The Sims Social differs from its predecessors: those other Sims belong to your Facebook friends. You’re not actually interacting with your friends in real time, but you can view a video replay of what happened when their Sims came over to your Sim’s house. If their Sim is mean and wants to become an official enemy of yours — or is flirtatious enough to take the relationship to the next level — you have to approve it first.
Veteran players may be disappointed by a few features, or lack thereof. You can’t control a whole family of Sims and found a dynasty that will last for generations. Sadistic Sims fans will be saddened by the fact they can no longer kill off their creations. And then there’s the in-game advertising — The Sims Social has debuted with Dunkin’ Donuts products incorporated into gameplay, although my Sim hasn’t run into a single doughnut yet.
But overall, it’s a fun and friendly twist on The Sims franchise that seems sure to attract millions more new players — and knock Zynga off a pedestal where it has been sitting comfortably for far too long.