Last summer, we announced the launch of a new app on Facebook: Car Town. It was meant to be the gearhead's answer to Farmville and Petville and other social games that encourage obsessive-compulsive types to do repetitive chores in a virtual world while presumably ignoring their chores in this one.
Car Town, however, has gone a bit further than its competitors. Sure, like them, Car Town offers special upgrades in exchange for cold, hard cash, but its creators at Cie Games have also begun blurring the line between their imaginary world and the real world in other, more interesting ways. In January, just as Toyota was unveiling its new Prius family of vehicles at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, it also debuted them on Car Town. And now, Universal Studios has partnered with Cie to do something even better: offer ticket sales, movie previews, and other Fast Five tie-ins within the game.
The fun began last week, when Car Town's drive-in cinema began playing trailers for Fast Five. The game also offers players a chance to race in a virtual Rio de Janiero, the setting of the film. Other special Fast Five-themed missions will roll out soon.
But perhaps the most interesting element of the tie-in comes from Regal Entertainment Group, which operates over 6,700 movie screens across the U.S. Regal is offering Car Town players the chance to purchase tickets to Fast Five within the game itself -- and as an added incentive, it appears that Regal will offer special game perks for buyers.
Granted, this isn't entirely new territory. For years, we've seen real-world promotions run in other virtual worlds like Second Life (remember Second Life?), and Regal's promotion isn't all that different from special in-game wardrobe and weapons packs that retailers like Amazon offer their videogame customers. It's also reminiscent of check-in specials from Foursquare and other apps, in its bridging of virtual and real-world spaces.
What sets this apart, though, is that Car Town and Fast Five are such a great pairing, with their young, motor-hungry, technologically savvy target demographics. Say what you will about social games -- or about Fast Five, for that matter -- but you can't really argue with a perfect match.
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Cie Games’ Car Town Partners With Universal Pictures and Regal Entertainment for Groundbreaking Social Networking Campaign in Support of the Upcoming Universal Action-Thriller Fast Five
Regal Entertainment Group to Promote Ticket Sales as Hollywood Leverages Social Gaming to Drive Engagement with Car Town’s 8 Million Players
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 7, 2011)—Cie Games, the top social networking publisher and creator of the leading automotive-based Facebook game Car Town (www.cartown.com), announced today a comprehensive multi-platform partnership with Universal Pictures’ upcoming action-thriller Fast Five, starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson. The film opens April 29, 2011.
Combining virtual and real world efforts, the innovative partnership includes revenue generating in-game micro transactions, significant in-game film integration, a Regal Cinemas ticket purchasing promotion and a home entertainment retail component. Until now, film studios have experimented on a limited basis with marketing film properties in conjunction with social games. Cie Games’ partnership with Universal Pictures and Regal Entertainment Group represents the most comprehensive effort yet by a major studio and a leading motion picture exhibitor to take advantage of the nexus between real-world marketing and promotion via social gaming.
The promotion of Fast Five in Car Town will occur in multiple phases that include both content and marketing. Beginning today, Car Town players will be able to view the Fast Five movie trailer at the in-game drive-in theater environment and race in a virtual Rio de Janeiro, the city in which the latest chapter in the franchise built on speed takes place. In conjunction with Fast Five’s April 29 release, Car Town will expand the series’ in-game presence to include special missions that tie-in with Fast Five’s storyline and offerings of the fastest, most recognizable cars from the film franchise.
A key component of this partnership will be to support film ticket purchases via Car Town in-game incentives. Regal Entertainment Group, which operates 6,775 screens in 37 states, will offer Car Town moviegoers an opportunity to purchase tickets in-game and earn an exclusive in-game benefit. In addition, Regal Theaters will promote the Car Town Fast Five integration in-theater, online and via social media channels.
“The Cie Games licensing partnership represents the most extensive full-scale integration to date of a Universal Pictures film property within an existing social game,” said Gary Lokum, Senior Manager Digital Platforms, NBC Universal. “Our goal is to extend the film experience in innovative ways. This program accomplishes that on multiple levels: as a revenue generating social gaming platform, film marketing outlet, and as a new way to reward fans of the franchise via virtual gifts.”
According to Justin Choi, Cie Games President and CEO, “Car Town has given The Fast and the Furious franchise a significant reach into social media. Universal Pictures has given us the ability to reach consumers on all other major media and retail channels. Together with Universal, we’re taking great content, making it interactive and giving consumers reasons to absorb that content across multiple platforms. This type of program represents the future of cross-media integration.”
In the less than a year since Car Town launched, it has attracted 8 million players. Forty-six percent of Car Town gamers play at least once every three days, 80 percent of the audience is under age 35 and the game is built around real-life brand integration…making Car Town particularly attractive for advertisers.