So you thought planting crops and ploughing fields was the quintessential casual game activity on Facebook? Think again. As we reported two weeks ago, The Sims Social — Electronic Arts’ latest version of its bestselling avatar-based franchise — is growing faster than a FarmVille weed. A week after its release, Sims Social had 4.6 million players logging in every day, which made it the 10th most popular game on Facebook.
Now things are looking even better for EA, and even more serious for Zynga. In just two weeks, Sims Social has leapfrogged nine games, including longstanding Zynga hits Empires & Allies, Texas Hold ‘Em, Pioneer Trail and — yes — FarmVille. In the last 24 hours, 9.3 million people played Sims Social, while 8.1 million played FarmVille, according to Facebook tracking site Appdata.com.
Next in the Sims’ sights: CityVille, the roost-ruling Zynga hit with 14 million players entering daily.
Part of what’s going on here is the successful transposition of the Sims, which had such addictive qualities it sold more than 140 million copies in its various PC versions. By letting you connect to your Facebook friends’ avatars, the Sims Social is finally delivering on the promise of The Sims Online, a massively multiplayer game released in 2002 and shut down in 2008.
But we’re also witnessing the slow decline of FarmVille. At its peak last year, more than 32 million people harvested crops and collected coins every day. There was an English Countryside add-on, and a Lady Gaga version. But some users complained that the game was too much of a time-suck; if you didn’t check in often enough, your crops would wither and die. Zynga made sure to reward players who paid for extra items that would “unwither” their crops. You could buy FarmVille currency at 7-Eleven, and cash in your Amex reward points to grow more crops.
Contrast that with the Sims, which has no penalties for infrequent checkins; your avatar and her house are just as you left them. Could its popularity herald a new era of kinder, gentler, less manic Facebook games? If the Sims can overtake CityVille as well, it just might.
Way to go EA. This is probably the best move the game company have done so far — making The Sims social — on Facebook. Now let me activate that Sims character in The Sims Social. Let’s ride the bandwagon.