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McDonald's pays to play with Sims

Welcome to McDonald's. Would you like virtual fries with that digital Big Mac?

No. 1 video game publisher Electronic Arts said on Monday that it has struck multimillion-dollar product placement deals with fast-food giant McDonald's and chip heavyweight Intel for its heavily anticipated life-simulation game "The Sims Online."

"Sims Online," set to debut this holiday season, is the Internet-based continuation of "The Sims," which debuted in February 2000 and has spawned a number of expansion packs, including "The Sims House Party," "The Sims Hot Date" and "The Sims Vacation." The franchise has sold more than 19 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling PC title of all time.

"I think this deal...reflects a growing recognition by Madison Avenue (advertising agencies) that video games have become mainstream entertainment, with a large and desirable demographic target," EA spokesman Jeff Brown said.

The deal is the latest step in the game industry's trend of moving its business models closer to the Hollywood model. While product placement is relatively new to games, movies such as Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" have generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue from product deals.

News source: C|Net

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