discoverylogo It came across my desk today that Discovery Channel was creating a Facebook game, and I thought I’d use the opportunity to look at how some big brands are using Facebook Games to promote products.   Some of these work, some of them don’t, but the key factor here is that they are all leveraging social gaming to reach out to their userbases, and in my opinion that type of interactive marketing that incentivizes the user with fun is a step in the right direction.  Take a look at the list after the jump.

While branded social games haven’t done overly well yet, we at Social Times are eager to see who can break the mould and create a truly integrated experience that takes advantage of its source material to create a new experience. 

Discovery Channel Attempts To Ride Social Gaming Waves With Deadliest Catch on Facebook

Hive Media has joined with Discovery Channel to create a social game based on the “Deadliest Catch” TV show, which is the highest-rated show on the channel.  The show is a documentary series that focuses on the crab fishing boats on the Bering sea, and is noted for its realism and tendency towards old-school documentaries over today’s reality show cliches.  The game is set to be released in November for Facebook.

This game, unfortunately, doesn’t sound like it will be using much of the original material, and is instead going to create a game based on the premise of the show.  Based on the description below, it seems like it will be using something akin to a FarmVille model with the brand attached.

According to Hive Media, the "Deadliest Catch" game will use what it describes as its "collaborative content delivery platform" to allow players to "experience the excitement and high stakes of crab fishermen." Players will act as captains of their own crab boats, the company says, and navigate the Bering Sea to cast and harvest pots, while balancing dangers against profits as they attempt to reach the top of a "crab count leaderboard."

Discovery is a smart brand that hopefully can create a compelling experience that provides new gameplay elements for its smarter audience to work with.  If the game is just a simple fishing and harvesting game, it’ll be hard for players to really get overly excited when competitors like FarmVille have perfected the formula and have more players and friends online. 

Discovery also announced they will be launching a mobile and console game in the future.  We’ll keep you posted.

ESPN to Launch Branded Sports Games This Fall

 

Earlier in May, ESPN announced they’ll be bringing branded sports games to Facebook   The only game that has been announced so far, and will be called ESPN U-Ville where players will be able to create their own college sports franchise in a suspected Sim City-like environment. Playdom will be providing a list of services that are apparently attractive to ESPN and we expect more brand and IP companies to strike deals with game publishers in the times to come.

David Fox Discusses Family Feud on Facebook

 

We asked David Fox from iWin about how they got to working with a big brand like Family Feud, and how they brought it to Facebook.

iWin owns the Family Feud downloadable license and over the past few years we developed a best-selling series of Family Feud casual games as well as a popular multiplayer version called Family Feud Online Party. We felt we had a well-paced, energetic version of the game that really made players feel they were on TV. We also spent many years building the game’s content to over 11,000 witty survey questions. The key to the Feud is adding in lots of deep intelligence with our answer-matching algorithms, so that players feel they aren’t cheated if they answer “seashore” instead of “beach” for the “Name a popular place families go on vacation” question.

We had been thinking of bringing Family Feud to Facebook but weren’t quite ready to resource a team large enough to make it happen. Around that time, we met up with Russell Owens at Casual Connect in Seattle. Russ is the CEO of Backstage Technologies, which is a small but highly successful social game company based in Victoria, Canada. Russ told me he and his wife were huge fans of Family Feud Online Party and that they would love to help us bring the game to Facebook.

As we talked more, it was clear that Backstage knew their stuff – their retention and monetization rates were impressive, and the had a dedicated social gaming platform. It seemed like a great fit. We brainstormed on a rough design and off we went.

Watercooler Partners With SI To Launch Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football for Facebook

 

It was only a matter of time before fantasy football invaded Facebook in a major way, and the time has come.  Sports Illustrated has teamed up with Watercooler, one of the leaders in fantasy sports games, to launch “Sports Illustrated Fantasy Football”, which combines Watercooler’s social elements and sporting gameplay with SI’s incredible sport score resources.  The game will surely mark the beginning of a battle for Facebook fantasy sports turf.

The game is a standard fantasy football league, which differentiates itself by connecting to SI.com and SI Mobile, so players can play wherever they are.  The game offers a ton of information which is one of the most vital things for fantasy league players.  If players can get their information and make trades with a few clicks, it enhances their experience.  The game offers SI.com Fantasy Intelligence Reports, including breaking news, analysis and advice, player performance updates, video reports and commentary from SI’s leading fantasy and football experts.

Ubisoft Re-Enters Social Gaming with Vineyard Country; Will Other Big Game Companies Follow?

 

Large game developers have trouble finding successes the way early social gaming companies like Playdom and even some casual companies like PopCap have had. Ubisoft is a good example of a traditional game developer that delved into the murky waters of social gaming with poor quality titles in the past. Their latest title, however, is a fantastically made, high-quality sim wine-farming game calledVineyard Country which, despite struggling with performance, should motivate other mainstream players to take the social gaming space more seriously.

The French publisher Ubisoft, producer of titles like Assasin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six, launched its first title for Facebook called TickTock in July of 2009 – a game that sits stagnant today at almost 67,000 users. Vineyard Country stands in stark contrast and aims to tackle the same genre as Metaplace’s ‘My Vineyard‘ – a wine making game. Vineyard
Country is a sim farming game at its core but replaces traditional crops like corn with wine. Players are given large estates upon which they can grow their wine making facilities and decorate with trees and other items to their hearts content.