I actually played SimCity Social for a while, finding it to be a fun little Facebook game. But the advertising in it always stuck out as a bit clunky: Now! For a limited time! Dump a corporate franchise into your city and get in-game bonuses!
Apparently it worked, because EA’s taking that show to the big time. At least the in-game bonuses are fairly sweet for an ad you voluntarily download:
This free in-game item is the perfect way to kick start your desire to create a city that will make you (and your Sims) happy. In the case of your Sims, In the case of your Sims, the Charging Station provides happiness to the Sims that use it and a onetime wave of happiness to the nearby businesses. Need another bonus? It produces no sewage or garbage. That’s right! Green indeed.
This does not seem to be a great followup to the game’s disastrous launch and EA’s ongoing PR flailing over what a blatant mess the game’s always-on DRM has been. The fact that it really does come with the little billboard certainly isn’t going to help matters. It’s almost certainly going to set the company up for more criticism, especially since the bonuses are relevant enough that players are probably going to actually want this.
On the other hand, it is at least free, and let’s be fair: EA is not the only company that’s been trying this. But it seems unlikely to put the focus back on the game itself any time soon.