A&M Records Promotes New Album in Sims Game

A&M Records has struck a deal that will promote its platinum-selling music group The Black Eyed Peas on a new Sims console game from Electronic Arts.

The soundtrack of “The Urbz: Sims in the City” will feature exclusive versions of songs from the band’s upcoming album “Monkey Business,” due out this fall. The songs will appear in versions of the game that are playable on Sony’s PlayStation2, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube.

“The Black Eyed Peas music and band members themselves are a perfect fit for the attitude and feel of ‘The Urbz: Sims in the City,'” said Sinjin Bain, executive producer and VP of EA. “The band’s music embodies the same sense of fun and energy as the game and we look forward to giving players the opportunity to experience music remixed with gaming at its fullest.”

Additionally, Black Eyed Peas’ members will appear as characters in the game. Members Will.I.Am, Fergie, Taboo and Apl.de.Ap are depicted as musicians teaching players “hip social moves” and unlocking “reputation-enhancing” missions, according to EA.

Reputation is at the heart of The Urbz, the latest addition to the Sims franchise, which simulates human lives and affairs. Players must unlock nine districts in New York, gain access to VIP spots and eventually “acquire control of the entire city,” the company said. The game is scheduled to ship in November 2004.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed, and EA had not returned calls seeking comment by press time.

EA has been known to infuse its games with real-world brands in the past. In 2002, the company worked with Intel and McDonald’s to integrate the companies’ branding into the game’s action.

More recently, an EA exec on an emerging media panel hosted by New York ad group 212 made a pitch urging marketers to buy brand exposure on its new game titles.

Indeed, the practice of advertising in popular games is steadily gaining credence with marketers. A company called Massive Inc. launched earlier this year to try to build a gaming network that will eventually handle ad insertion orders in a method similar to online advertising. And a number of agencies have recently launched in-game advertising divisions. Starcom MediaVest Group was the first to get serious about it, launching its Play division in mid-2003. More recently, Young & Rubicam rolled out Bounce Interactive Gaming (BIG) to advance its clients’ in-game advertising ambitions.

A&M’s deal with EA takes the trend into the recording studio. Versions of nine tracks will be recorded by the band in a language called “Simlish,” which is unique to the game.

“This is an unprecedented collaboration,” said Steve Schnur, EA’s global head of music and audio. “Never before has a band gone back in to the studio to re-record their album in another language, specifically for a game.”

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