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When the original SimCity was released 23 years ago, "The Internet" was little more than a gleam in a military nerd's eye, and the idea of "social gaming" referred more to getting a bunch of mates around and playing Pictionary. Now though, SimCity is enjoying a resurgence, two decades on - and the first step involves invading Facebook.
Jami Laes, Vice President of Global Studios for Playfish explains what's going on:
SimCity Social will entice a new generation of urban planners with its easy-to-use tools that allow anyone to expand and grow their own unique sprawling metropolises and watch as it comes to life in fun and unexpected ways. SimCity Social is about playing with your friends. Whether you do that with kindness by helping put out a fire or through mischievous acts like helping a criminal escape, the decisions you make with your friends will determine how the story of your cities plays out.
It's a prelude of sorts to next year's complete franchise reboot, with the 2013 SimCity offering similar friend-or-foe mechanics. In our video interview with Laes at E3, he explained how interactions in SimCity Social go "far beyond" simply visiting neighbours and using them as resources.
Instead, the game will actively change depending on how you play with your friends - changing both aesthetics and gameplay based on your choices.
To celebrate the game's official launch, Playfish and EA have kicked off a couple of special promotions - the worldwide "Food Frenzy" including new businesses and factories, and, for gamers outside of North America, there's also a nifty tie-in with Mercedes-Benz and its A-Class car, which sees a Merc factory added to the in-game buildings.
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Jimmy the Geek