The Sims 3 PC franchise’s latest expansion, Showtime, introduces a multiplayer feature that builds on a popular social game mechanic that drives engagement in The Sims Social.
In Showtime, player characters (Sims) can earn a living by performing at clubs and venues in-game. A new “SimPort” feature allows players to send their Sims to other players’ games to perform at their venues, netting both players in-game rewards. Sound familiar? It’s a common mechanic in social games, where players visit each other’s farms, houses, homesteads, etc. in order to gain additional resources.
It’s also a driving gameplay loop in The Sims Social, the wildly successful adaptation of The Sims franchise for Facebook, where players complete most in-game quests by visiting friends’ Sims to perform social interactions. These asynchronous multiplayer activities net both players rewards and soft currency that can be spent on decoration and activity items. Some of the interactions also feature a viral component, where both Sims participate in an activity (dancing, composing music, Whoo-hooing — the game’s term for sex — etc.) and then the visiting player may leave a Wall post of the activity for the home player. The Sims 3 SimPort feature perhaps doesn’t copy the viral element of visiting from the social game adaptation, but it is interesting to see content flow from The Sims Social back to the parent game series.
As for content flowing in the other direction, we have been told to expect a large-scale expansion for The Sims Social in 2012. The Sims 3 currently has expansions that cover show business, pets, child and teenage activities, late night activities, exotic jobs and travel. Technical limitations and gameplay parameters may rule out some of these areas for Sims Social expansions; for example, the Facebook game does not allow Sims to age and currently players cannot have more than one controllable Sim on their lot. The Sims 3 Showtime expansion hints, however, that emphasizing shared activities (like performing for a crowd of Sims) c0uld be the next direction The Sims Social may take.