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Is EA Trying to Sims-ify Spore?

Spore BoxMy, how Spore is multiplying.

When the much-hyped evolution sim was released in September, along with it came Spore Creatures for the Nintendo DS and Spore Origins for mobile phones. In November, we got the Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack — basically a cache of extra appendages to tinker with — and come springtime we’ll get a full expansion in Spore: Galactic Adventures.

But wait, there’s more.

Yesterday, Electronic Arts confirmed Spore Hero for the Wii and Spore Hero Arena for the DS, plus a PC spin-off called Spore Creature Keeper. If you lost count, that’s seven additional Spore games, spin-offs and expansions to hit shelves within more or less a year of the original game’s release.

It occurs to me that EA is trying to “Sims-ify” Spore — i.e., turn it into a massive brand that can be continually milked for more revenue. This isn’t a major revelation, given that the guy behind Spore, Will Wright, also created the Sims, and that the franchise has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Still, this time around it seems forced.

Wikipedia, of all places, gives a nice, scanable overview of how the Sims brand was distributed over time. It started with the main game in January 2000, followed by the “Livin’ Large” expansion pack in August 2000. The next add-on didn’t come until April 2001, and after that it was a steady stream of roughly bi-annual expansions. The official sequel came in 2004, and a third title is coming this year.

The current cycle with Spore seems to be moving faster. Granted, that’s because the approach is different, with EA immediately expanding the brand beyond the PC, but I wonder how effective that will be for Wii and DS owners who haven’t played the main game. Even if you are a big Spore fan and are willing to enjoy the franchise across multiple platforms, all these auxiliary releases — so soon from the original launch date — must feel like an overload.


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