It was announced on Monday that EA will reorganize into four labels: EA Games, EA Sports, EA Casual Games, and The Sims. This is an interesting move on their part, intended to "streamline the company" (don't all companies seem to do this on a daily basis?). It should be interesting to see if this makes any real difference, though I doubt it does. I've heard that working for EA is like working in a sweat shop; it's amazing that any products are released at all, if that's the case.
What intrigues me most is the fact that "The Sims" will be broken off into its own label. Who knew that a single video game would spawn such an empire? I won't deny that I was a Sims junkie at one point. I own all of the Sims 1 expansion packs, and I even developed several tools for that very game. The game was highly revolutionary at the time, and remains one of the best examples of an object-oriented programming model (Sidebar: Each individual game object contains the necessary sounds and animations used when a Sim interacts with that object. This programming paradigm is incredibly beneficial, since new objects can be added at a later time without a need to update the game's core files.).
As one might expect, when the sequel (The Sims 2) was released, I eagerly picked it up. Surprisingly, I was disappointed with the game. Like many Maxis games, performance was sub par, even on my fairly beefy home computer (Sim City 3000, a game dating back to 1999, still stutters on my current machine). In addition, the game play mechanics had changed drastically: Sims had a finite life span, a number of goals needed to be reached through the Sim's lifetime, and relationships were even harder to maintain. I lost interest fairly quickly, and haven't played either title in several years.
So, to make a long story short, I'm a little amazed that the product line has continued to do so well. The Sims 2 has a total of 5 expansion packs (with at least 1 more on the way), 3 of which are essentially the same expansions as are available in The Sims 1. I get a "been there, done that" kind of feeling in that regard, but apparently lots of people don't feel that way. Otherwise, EA wouldn't have spun the franchise into its own label.