Simcity's first bit of free DLC is now available on Origin.
Product placement doesn't have to be a bad thing. When it's done well you barely even see it's there. Characters in a movie will visit a restaurant and all be craving a Coke, or perhaps you'll be playing a videogame and notice an ad for a particular presidential candidate in the background. It's no big deal, when you think about it. The publishers and developers receive a bit of cash to help offset the cost of development, and the advertisers get a new method of tapping into the part of your subconscious that tells you to buy, vote and eat things.
All of this said, product placement can sometimes be eye-rolling. For instance, fans of SimCity can now download the game's first bit of free DLC: a Nissan Leaf electric car charging station. The charging station, apparently designed to be seen from several miles in the air, is branded with a big, bright-red Nissan logo and a matching billboard advertising the "100% Electric Nissan Leaf." To drive home that Nissan's electric car is good, the charging station comes with some nifty in-game benefits.
"Plopping down the Nissan LEAF® Charging Station will add happiness to nearby buildings," said Maxis. "Adding the Charging Station will not take power, water or workers away from your city. Zoom in to the streets of cities and players will start seeing a percentage of their Sims from all wealth classes driving the electric vehicles. The Charging Station produces no garbage or sewage as well making it pollution free."
It kind of makes you want to go buy a Leaf, doesn't it?
In all seriousness, Electronic Arts and Maxis could have done much worse than promote the sale of an electric car. For instance, 2007's SimCity Societies featured product placement from British Petroleum which, ironically, had partnered with EA to try and educate gamers on environmentally friendly alternative energy sources. A few years later, of course, BP would infamously be found to be responsible for the worst accidental oil spill in history.