EA (Electronic Arts) has released of the latest incarnation of its hugely popular Sims game, The Sims Online, in the US this week, with a UK launch scheduled for 14 February.
The Sims Online is an internet-based, multiplayer version of The Sims, the biggest-selling PC game of all time. It has already garnered interest following EA's product placement deals with MacDonalds and Intel.
Earlier this year it announced contracts with the burger chain and processor maker worth $2m. These will see Sims characters using Intel Pentium 4-based PCs, complete with the Intel jingle. Players can use their computers to play, communicate with friends and even run cybercafés.
They will also be able to earn some extra Simoleons (Sims cash) by running a MacDonald's kiosk, or satisfy their need for food and fun by eating the branded fast food.
The Sims series of games allows players to create and control characters, known as Sims. You have to name, house, clothe and employ your Sims, as well as developing relationships with friends, partners, children and pets.
In the Sims Online characters can communicate with other Sims via live text chat, which appears in a bubble above their own Sim's head.
The game has been translated into 16 languages.
The Sims Online software will cost $49.99, (£31) with a monthly subscription fee of $9.99 (£6). As yet EA has no details on UK pricing.