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Red Cross ready to heal hurt SimCities

When disaster strikes, the Red Cross helps real people in need, and thanks to a new SimCity add-on, the organization can simultaneously help virtual citizens, too.

Red Cross enters the virtual world. Electronic Arts

Earthquakes, tornadoes, and meteor strikes can decimate a SimCity, but a newly released Red Cross add-on can make the healing process a bit easier.

The charitable add-on costs $9.99 (80 percent of purchase proceeds go to Red Cross programs in 10 countries) and enables city builders to place a Red Cross relief center, tents, and vehicles in their town when needed.

Publisher Electronic Arts notes that the Red Cross SimCity package only shows up for Origin customers in the United States, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; these countries host the participating Red Cross National Societies programs that receive part of the proceeds. EA plans to contribute a minimum of $100,000 to Red Cross through this SimCity add-on, and could contribute more if the package earns above that figure.

According to EA, the add-on contains a relief center that acts as a Red Cross headquarters that helps SimCity citizens prepare and respond efficiently to disaster; tents that pop up at various places in a city after a natural calamity, and offer shelter, assistance, and supplies to townsfolk; a fleet of Red Cross vehicles that visit residents before a disaster to promote readiness, and during chaos, also assist emergency services.

When a SimCity Red Cross tent disappears, it means ten citizens return home. Screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET