EA will release The Sims 3 on June 2nd, marking a new chapter for this immensely popular life simulation franchise. As EA begins its marketing push, the title appears quite healthy based on a variety of metrics. Fully 72% of female PC gamers and 64% of male PC gamers were aware of The Sims 3 in Nielsen's most recent Video Game Tracking survey. Furthermore, 43% of females are definitely or probably interested in buying the title compared to 28% for males.
This high level of interest and gender disparity is to be expected based on PC audience measurement for the previous edition of The Sims which can be gleaned from GamePlay Metrics. The Sims 2 released in 2004 but has kept gamers engaged through numerous expansion packs (generally adding gameplay) and stuff packs (generally adding new items) which have been released through 2008. The most recent metered data from March indicates that The Sims 2: The Celebration Stuff, a stuff pack, had the third largest audience (146,000 unique players) of any simulation game. Additionally, the various Sims 2 packs and the core title occupy six of the top 20 rankings for simulation games by audience, accounting for a combined 749,000 unique players. The Sims 2: Mansion, an expansion pack, and The Sims 2: Garden Stuff had the most engaged Sims players for the month with gamers averaging 5 sessions and a little over 6 hours of gameplay per week. Looking at demographics, the players of The Sims 2 base title skew female, age 12 to 17 and play moderate amounts.
Turning to online buzz, The Sims 2 maintains strong engagement with consumers, perhaps through the various expansion packs. Buzz volume YTD for The Sims 2 is comparable to the upcoming title, until reports of leaked and pirated copies of The Sims 3 emerged on May 18.
Buzz for the new title has remained at an elevated level since. Even though The Sims series has a reputation of appealing to the female and casual gaming audience, this audience is not heavily engaged in online discussion of the title. The top sources of discussion for both The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 are gaming sites Neoseeker.com, Eyesonff.com, Electronicarts.co.uk, and Gametrailers.com, which skew male and attract hard core gamers.