'The Sims' sells 100 million copies worldwide

April 16, 2008 3:44:25 PM PDT
There are no scary monsters to slay, no enemies to shoot and no cars to hijack. But "The Sims" video and computer game has sold 100 million units since its launch in 2000. Long the world's top-selling game for computers, "The Sims" is also available on Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2, the Nintendo Co. Wii and other platforms - but it remains most popular on PCs.

The 100-million mark, which publisher Electronic Arts Inc. announced Wednesday, puts "The Sims" in the ranks of blockbuster franchises such as Nintendo's Mario and Pokemon games, which have sold more than 201 million and 175 million units respectively, as well as Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.'s "Grand Theft Auto" series, which has sold more than 65 million copies.

In "The Sims," which can be played online or not, players create homes and businesses for and guide the day-to-day lives of "Sims" characters. It has been published in 60 countries and 22 languages. Its creator, Will Wright, is one of the video game industry's best regarded brains - though he's no longer involved with the title.

Following the game's launch eight years ago, it quickly crossed over from core gamers to a wide audience. Today 60 percent of the game's players are women, still a rarity among video games, which are dominated by first-person shooters and titles aimed at 20-something men and teenage boys.

"It's appealing to a large market that core video games have traditionally ignored," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

Nancy Smith, who leads EA's Sims Label, said players find a welcome release in creating a world for their characters. She called it a "very creative sandbox" with a quirky humor that shines through when players can't always make their characters do what they should.

Fans have uploaded more than 100,000 "Sims" movies to YouTube - which Smith said is another testament to the players' creativity. Videos include a "Sims" version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Broadway musical "Rent."

The game has ad partnerships with Ford and clothing retailer H&M, and its online community has 4.2 million unique visitors each month, the company said. It even has its own language, Simlish, formed by mixing parts of Ukrainian, Navajo and other languages.

"'The Sims' helped usher in a new type of virtual social game play, and with the increase in online gaming and multiplayer gaming, the social aspect and appeal of gaming is quite evident," said Anita Frazier, toys and video games analyst at market researcher NPD Group, in an e-mail.