Viral mechanics: Sim City Social

Matthew Warneford

In the first of a series of posts we’re examining the viral actions employed by some of the most important social games.

In this post we’re looking at EA’s Sim City Social. The gaming giant’s ‘Sim City’ brand used to be the biggest name in city building sims, until Zynga arrived on the scene. Now EA hopes to open Sim City up to a new market and bring existing Sim City players into social gaming.

The flow chart accompanying this post details the viral mechanics employed in Sim City Social over a one-hour play through. No real money was spent.

At the bottom of the post is a chart that details the time-frame where the various actions took place.

In total I was offered the chance to share 28 times. Two were requests to invite friends, 16 to share accomplishments, six to ask for resources, and four to send gifts.

As you will see from the chart, achievements were in greater supply at the start of the game. This is partly to engage a new players (we all like to feel were achieving something), to give them opportunities to share early on (in case they don’t stick with it), and also because resources are in greater supply so the game can move on quicker.

Nearer the end of the play through opportunities to share changed from mostly comprising of achievements (challenge completed, let your friends know), to asking for help (I need resources to finish this level, can you give me any?).

An interesting tactic employed by Sim City Social is ‘fake neighbours’. Right at the start (and later on) I was told that friends of mine on Facebook had moved into my City (visiting friends can help with your game). These friends had done nothing of the sort but I was asked to welcome them with an in-game gift. In effect, by sending them the gift I’d have been inviting them to play Sim City Social, despite being told they were already playing.

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