The Sims might have been a huge hit with casual gamers worldwide. The virtual world built on the same property, The Sims Online, was unfortunately rather less so. Last year, three employees led by Luc Barthelet convinced EA that the whole TSO concept could be revitalized under a new platform and model.
Development ensued, apace until on Thursday, February 21 the last of The Sims Online cities shut down, and were bundled off. Say hello to EA-Land. It appears that some or all of the downed cities have been merged into the new EA-Land mixed-pay model.
EA-Land is apparently following a model more like that of Second Life, with free players and paying subscribers, a planned currency exchange for Simoleons (TSO's world currency, and now EA-Land's), multiple avatars per account, custom content uploads, user-run stores, and web-services integration, facebook apps. It's the whole virtual world nine yards, it seems.
It's a heck of a big change, and the developers are hoping that old TSO players, as well as new users will come and see what they've got going on.
The whole operation has been moved to new servers, a new data center, and the whole thing revamped to take advantage of better Internet data throughput rates.
Some say that TSO failed, being ahead of its time -- it remains to be seen whether the new model will breathe life into the old world, and bring it back into the forefront of the public eye; or at least, turning a profit.