Image: The Sims
Electronic Arts
In "The Sims," players create homes and businesses for and guide the day-to-day lives of "Sims" characters.
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updated 4/16/2008 4:48:04 PM ET 2008-04-16T20:48:04

There are no scary monsters to slay, no enemies to shoot and no cars to hijack. But with more than 100 million units sold since its launch in 2000, "The Sims" is the world's best-selling computer game.

The game's publisher, Electronic Arts Inc., announced Wednesday that the franchise had hit the 100 million mark, making it second only to Nintendo's Mario franchise, which has sold 201 million units across all gaming platforms.

In "The Sims," which can be played online or not, players create homes and businesses for and guide the day-to-day lives of "Sims" characters. It has been published in 60 countries and 22 languages. Its creator, Will Wright, is one of the video game industry's best regarded brains — though he's no longer involved with the title.

Following the game's launch eight years ago, it quickly crossed over from core gamers to a wide audience. Today 60 percent of the game's players are women, still a rarity among video games, which are dominated by first-person shooters and titles aimed at 20-something men and teenage boys.

"It's appealing to a large market that core video games have traditionally ignored," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.

Nancy Smith, who leads EA's Sims Label, said players find a welcome release in creating a world for their characters. She called it a "very creative sandbox" with a quirky humor that shines through when players can't always make their characters do what they should.

Fans have uploaded more than 100,000 "Sims" movies to YouTube — which Smith said is another testament to the players' creativity. Videos include a "Sims" version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Broadway musical "Rent."

The game has ad partnerships with Ford and clothing retailer H&M, and its online community has 4.2 million unique visitors each month, the company said. It even has its own language, Simlish, formed by mixing parts of Ukrainian, Navajo and other languages.

"'The Sims' helped usher in a new type of virtual social game play, and with the increase in online gaming and multiplayer gaming, the social aspect and appeal of gaming is quite evident," said Anita Frazier, toys and video games analyst at market researcher NPD Group, in an e-mail.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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