Electronic Arts’ Q3 2023 earnings call was held on Tuesday and was a mixed result for the gaming giant. However, "The Sims" was the bright spot and seen as a way for EA to secure a share of the metaverse market.
The gaming platforms are becoming closer to a truly immersive and persistent digital world, and marketers are taking notice. Brands have spent millions of dollars partnering with in-game creators to build bespoke virtual brand experiences within popular games such as Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft.
EA didn't mention the word "metaverse" during the Q3 2023 earnings call, but the company has clearly noticed the potential for generating revenue from virtual platforms powered by user-generated content (UGC). Samantha Ryan, SVP and General Manager at EA, who oversees studios such as Maxis, the developer of ‘The Sims,’ stated, "There’s no doubt in my mind that ‘The Sims’ will be [as big as Fortnite and Roblox] at some point.”
To make the most of its UGC capabilities, EA's studios, Maxis and Full Circle, are working on future projects that are "game-out." This strategy involves ensuring that the game elements and features that players know and love are preserved and providing everything necessary to keep players highly engaged. In-game tools will also be added to allow players to use and merge with outside tools, making it easy to transfer things in and out of the game.
The Sims is one of EA's most popular series and boasts a player count of 33 million as of October 2022, six years after its initial release. However, it is still significantly smaller than the player counts of games like Minecraft (173 million) and Fortnite (400 million). The Sims is a simulation game based on the construction of virtual worlds and virtual people, much like Roblox and Minecraft. Currently, users can share their creations but cannot co-create simultaneously, which is a key aspect of metaverse platforms like Roblox and Minecraft.
To bring The Sims closer to metaverse platforms, EA is working on "Project Rene," the next Sims game. The company has recently conducted an apartment customization test to see how multiple players would build together, something that has not been possible in previous Sims games but is highly requested by players. Additionally, The Sims recently switched to a free-to-play, live service model, welcoming over 10 million new players into the community.
Maxis and Skate, two studios under EA, have already been working in the UGC space, making the company well-positioned to reach a large UGC audience. EA also tests prototype versions of its games with select groups of players before the final release, to ensure that the final product aligns with community expectations.