The hugely controvercial new SimCity has stirred up more juicy dramas today by releasing a completely free DLC for the game. Wait - free? That's good, right? Well, it would be, but it's a product placement. Ooh, conflict.
The DLC is a 'Nissan Leaf Charging Station' that lets your sims drive in, charge their little leccie cars, and drive away again happy. Ahh, fantabulous green living! Here's the deets:
Plopping down the Nissan Leaf Charging Station will add happiness to nearby buildings. Adding the Charging Station will not take power, water or workers away from your city. Zoom in to the streets of cities and players will start seeing a percentage of their Sims from all wealth classes driving the electric vehicles. The Charging Station produces no garbage or sewage as well making it pollution free.
You can get the DLC by visiting this Origin page and providing the same Origin ID that you log into the game with. The pack will be available for download for six months, from April 2nd, and once you've downloaded it you can access it at any time.
Let's tally this up. The DLC is free, it provides free happiness for your sims, it takes no power, water or workers from your city, and produces no garbage or sewage. Oh, and there's that big slap-happy Nissan logo.
Product placement is a peculiar fish to tackle. It's kinda cheesy most of the time, but sometimes it's warranted and completely natural - like seeing tyre ads in racing sims. In the curious case of the Nissan Leaf Charging Station, I'm inclined to say it's A Good Thing. Clearly Nissan wanted this to be low-impact, high-gain and present a positive image for both their company and their presence in the SimCity game.
Another interesting aspect to consider is since this is essentially a huge ad for Nissan as a company and Nissan are clearly getting a ma-hoosive benefit from having their product placed in a game that sold over 1.1M copies in its first two weeks (despite the fustercluck that was Amazon suspending sales and the rage about servers being offline and all that jazz), EA are getting their reward no doubt in the form of a hefty 'cheers for that' payment from Nissan - which allows them to chuck the DLC out to the masses for free.
It's a great concept. Provide undoubtedly game-beneficial, non-intrusive product placement in DLC that's paid for by the company being advertised, and then give the DLC to the players at no charge. Has anybody done this before? I'm almost inclined to say it's a game-changer. There's nothing not to like here.
Unfortunately for EA, though, I don't think this will help them pick the shattered fragments of their broken game and tarnished reputation up off the floor. SimCity still sucks. Too little, too late?
/ MWEB Gamezone Twitter
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