EA announced today that a new add-on for SimCity is avaiable for free. It’s a Nissan-branded Leaf charging station for your citizens to charge up their electric vehicles. Adding it to your city adds happiness and makes the place just a little bit greener with zero garbage and pollution production, great for mayors that want to take care of their environement.
It also adds just a whiff of something else that some mayors may find more off-putting; in-game advertising.
EA has a long history of adding branded content to their products, especially in The Sims and SimCity franchises. The H&M Stuff Pack for The Sims 2 comes to mind, as do numerous other free add-ons for games like downloadable Ford Focus vehicles for The Sims.
There are two ways to look at content like this. On the one hand, it’s an intrusion of advertising into an experience meant for enjoyment. Many people find this objectionable, and thankfully, they have the option to simply not install the content.
The other is to look at it from a realism standpoint. While the Leaf charging station is clearly Nissan-branded, it does not have big ads plastered all over it; it looks like something you’d reasonably expect to see in a city equipped to handle electric vehicles. It doesn’t stand out from the rest of the game, painting itself with a big eye-drawing bullseye.
If you want to add the charging station to your game, you do it by visiting this page.
I’ve always thought that this was the most intelligent way for companies to advertise through games, with content that adds value to the games while trying to avoid drawing anger by being obtrusive about it. With this Leaf charging station, if you’ll pardon the pun, your mileage may vary. I think it’s a good move.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!
(Via EA Forums)