A few weeks ago, SimCity creator Maxis gave people some free DLC, which actually turned out to be, essentially, advertising for the Nissan LEAF electric car. People were miffed about this because they’d been promised DLC for the game during the lead-up to SimCity’s release. They weren’t promised in-game advertising thinly veiled as DLC.
Now EA and Maxis have teamed up with another two companies to bring you more SimCity add-on content – and yes, it’s pretty much advertising once again. This time, however, it’s not really in-game advertising. Instead, you have to buy Oral B dental floss or Crest toothpaste in order to get hold of redeem codes for in-game SimCity content. Obviously you need to be living in America – where you can buy the required stuff.
So what will the codes get the Americans? They’ll get “five fun tourist hotspots” to plop into their cities. They’re weird tourist hotspots, like giant garden gnomes, giant balls of yarn and something called Llary the Llama. The, umm, buildings will boost happiness in the area and bring tourists on all income levels into player cities.
There are a number of reasons why this promotion is weird. First off: dental hygiene and games is a strange pairing. When I think dentists, toothpaste and flossing, I don’t think of Master Chief or Skyrim. Second: the codes can also be used to get you Origin credit (worth $5) or in-game currency for EA’s Facebook game The Sims Social. Yes, the same Sims Social that EA just announced is closing down.
The final odd thing, and elephant in the room, is that the promo image for this unlikely pairing features an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 sitting comfortably next to copies of SimCity. Chances are this is a marketing balls-up at the hands of Oral B / Crest. If it is that, then it just screams half-hearted cash-in on EA and Maxis’s behalf as well. Poor form indeed and probably not an indication that the game is heading to consoles. If that was the case, I doubt EA would leave that announcement to a dental hygiene company.