Did you know that overall "The Sims" franchise has sold an impressive 98 million games around the world and been translated into 22 different languages since 2000?

Roll on the next installment - EA has announced the first details of "The Sims 3". Featuring a brand new engine that has been in development for nearly three years, The Sims 3 allows you to immerse your unique Sims in an open living neighbourhood right outside their door.

The initial feature-set unveiled includes the new seamless, open neighbourhood, new Create-A-Sim, new realistic personalities and new unlimited customisation.

"In The Sims 3, Sims can go beyond the boundaries of their home lot, and immerse themselves in an open, living neighbourhood, interacting with other Sims using our new deeper personality system", said Rod Humble, head of The Sims studio.

"It is this type of open-ended gameplay that inspires endless creative possibilities. In addition the new goals and rewards systems will give players of all kinds from core gamers to storytellers the ability to enjoy long-term gameplay."

The Sims 3 will launch globally in 2009.