Electronic Arts teases future metaverse projects

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American game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has hinted that it will tap into the metaverse, following the steps of other gaming companies.

EA senior vice president and general manager Samantha Ryan explained that the company’s studios are working on new projects to adapt to the new internet era. Although Ryan did not use the term “metaverse,” she said EA can bring its game titles into the next-gen of the internet.

Ryan brought up Maxis, developer of the popular life simulation game The Sims and Full Circle, which came up with the Skate franchise. She said that both studios contained worked on “game-out” future projects.

The executive said “game-out” games focused on making players deeply engaged with them by delivering familiar and popular unique elements. However, these games add a layer of in-game tools that players can use either in or outside of the games.

Ryan particularly highlighted The Sims’ potential to tap into the metaverse. The Sims is a game title based on constructing virtual worlds and virtual characters that inhabit these environments. The concept makes The Sims comparable with metaverse platforms like Roblox.

Despite its premise, the game is still a simulation, not a pure metaverse world. Although The Sims enables users to share their creations with other users, they cannot co-create these in-game items at the same time.

In Roblox, for example, social engagement with other players within the gameplay is the central aspect that makes the game engaging. On the other hand, The Sims’ core gameplay remains single-player focused.

Ryan said Maxis was working on the next series of The Sims, calling the project “Project Rene,” which focuses on improving the social aspects of The Sims. Ryan offered a glimpse into the project, saying that the new game would allow multiple players to build an apartment together.

According to Ryan, The Sims loyal players have been asking for this new feature for a while. They even came up with mods — players’ generated in-game content — that enable two players to perform this feat together.

However, these mods can be challenging to use by other players and prone to hacking. Ryan said it was the reason that caused the developer to consider making today’s user-generated content available in the future game.

The Sims is arguably EA’s most popular title to date. The Sims 4 recorded a total number of players of 33 million in October 2022, six years after the game was released.

Despite that, the number was relatively small compared to metaverse-leaning games like Minecraft and Fortnite, which boasted 173 million and 400 million players, respectively.

EA to focus on UGC

In the upcoming developments, EA plans to focus more on user-generated content (UGC). It recently announced a partnership with Overwolf to develop a space for players to download mods and custom content, ensuring that these in-game items are more moderated and curated than the widely available items that can be “hacky.”

“We believe that UGC is the future of gaming,” Overwolf CEO Uri Marchand said. “Gamers get more content, mod authors are recognized and rewarded for their creations and publishers can outsource content creation in a way that is safe, while fostering engagement.”

By focusing on UGC, EA is applying the concept that metaverse gaming platforms use to minimize involvement in game development. The game instead aims to develop a more robust creator economy, allowing brands and other entities to develop content inside the game.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that ‘The Sims’ will be [as big as Fortnite and Roblox] at some point.”

Samantha Ryan, SVP and General Manager of Electronic Arts

Roblox, for example, has worked with various major brands. Recently, Warner Music Group teamed up with Roblox to launch a musical slash social experience called Rhythm City on the metaverse platform. Players can attend virtual concerts and interact with their idols on Roblox.

Ryan expressed her confidence that EA’s titles could achieve the same level of popularity as Roblox and Fortnite.