The Sims Online, or TSO, was a massively multiplayer online game. It was based on The Sims, and offered online play with other gamers via PC. It was published by Electronic Arts and released on December 17, 2002 for Windows. After the popularity of the game waned, the name was changed to EA Land; the change failed, and EA Land was permanently shut down by EA on August 1, 2008. This shutdown is commonly referred to as the "EA Land Sunset". In 2011, a new online based game known as The Sims Social was announced as a Facebook application and it is considered by some to be a new version of The Sims Online. In 2013, The Sims Social was shut down by EA due to lack of popularity.
There were twelve cities for a Sim to choose. Players needed to train skills (mechanical, cooking, charisma, body, creativity, and logic) to unlock new interactions and careers. A player increased skills usually by visiting Skill category properties, as skill could be increased at a faster rate when multiple Sims worked on the same skill concurrently. These Skill properties, or "Skill Houses" as they were commonly referred to in the game, usually specialized in only one or two skills, as was often mentioned in the property's name.
There was some controversy in The Sims Online concerning some players who were setting up virtual brothels in the game, exchanging cyber sex for Simoleons.
After The Sims Online had been somewhat of a failure, EA changed the name from The Sims Online to EA Land. They also implemented some other changes:
- All cities were merged into one megacity known as EA Land, with the exception of Test Center 3, which remained as a testing ground for new features.
- Existing users could buy land in EA Land.
- Users could create and upload custom content, and purchase custom content from other users, subject to approval from EA.
Many previous users from TSO didn't welcome the recent changes, because of the limits placed on free accounts and the requirement of paying $9.95 monthly to keep your account for over a year.
Further disappointment and lack of any new content to keep the users staying caused many users to quit. Eventually an official message was posted, ending EA Land permanently on August 1, 2008.