by Malcolm Rowe

Computer games as spam, and Marmite

I’ve had “Marmite” written on a blackboard in my kitchen for the past two or so months: I can’t seem to find any in the shops. The only sensible conclusion is that there’s a nationwide shortage.

One theory — though admittedly one that’s perhaps not entirely plausible — is that Electronic Arts has persuaded Unilever to divert its massive manufacturing resources from producing Marmite to, instead, designing and fabricating The Sims 2 expansion packs. Certainly some large, evil organisation (no, not that one) must be behind the rows of pointless products I ran into at a game store lately:

A shelf rack at a local computer game store.  It's full of
expansion packs for The Sims 2.
All Sims, all the time

In case you can’t make it out, titles shown above include The Sims 2 Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff (for £9.99), The Sims 2 IKEA Home Stuff (for £9.99), and a whole heap of other packs at £10, £20, and £25 price points.

Now don’t get me wrong: I like The Sims. I played the original a fair bit when it came out, although, like most people, I suspect, my games ended after I got bored and tried to enact Sim City-style disasters on my sims. (I also wanted to get my sims a copy of The Sims to play in-game, but I think that was just me. Or maybe not.)

I’m aware that The Sims 2 was the best selling PC game of 2004 (but we’re somewhat past that now, no?). I just didn’t think the level of cynicism in the PC games addon market had reached that of console games. I mean, srsly? Kitchen fittings? For £10? I wonder if the marginal cost of production is low enough that they can just throw anything at the wall and see what sticks?

Much like spam.

EA: stop spamming my local stores with pointless stuff and let Unilever make me more Marmite!