Screw the game, SimCity has become a cynically brilliant advertising platform

Screw the game, SimCity has become a cynically brilliant advertising platform

So the good news is that Cheetah Speed has returned to SimCity, and some new content in the form of the “Attractions Set” has been released. Who doesn't love new buildings to add into their cities? So this is something that's free right? Or will we have to pay?

Make your Sims smile with the Attractions Set—five fun tourist hot spots that will not only make your Sims happy, but bring in more tourists. If you want to plop these playful attractions in your city, you need to be located in the United States and you’ll also need to purchase a specially marked Crest or Oral-B product to receive a code good for all five attractions.

Son of a bitch. So there's no way to buy the content, and it certainly isn't free. It's just a way to get people who like SimCity to buy toothpaste. This isn't a cosmetic addition to the game, as these additions - and I think a giant ball of twine is seriously an awesome addition - will give you an advantage during play.

“The Attractions Set adds happiness to low wealth Sims,” the official post stated. “They will also bring in all three wealth classes of tourists into your city.”

This is why I have such a deep loathing for EA at the moment. It's not that you get neat stuff for buying a certain brand of toothpaste, it's that the game seems designed around these sponsorship deals and monetization strategies. It doesn't feel like EA and Maxis sat down and tried to create the very best version of SimCity possible, it feels like they designed the game that would be the easiest to control, monetize, and sell to advertisers.

Remember, the first piece of DLC for the game was an ad for an electric car that also gave you in-game advantages. EA has created a system where you're rewarded for actively seeking out and adding advertisements to their game. It's brilliant in a sort of disgusting way.

EA isn't just selling games to players, they're selling players to advertisers. And it's not just a passive advertisement, as the only way to get to this content is to actively go to the store and buy a certrain brand of product. That, in many ways, feels worse to me. Cities filled with ads are actually realistic, as real-life cities are filled with billboards and screens. This is something else, and it's in ever worse taste considering the problems the game has faced since launch.

Also, check out how the page for the promotion shows the game next to a PS3 and Xbox 360. The attention to detail is astounding.