With the increasing popularity of online social networking phenomenon, everything seems to be going the social way. And now come the days of social sports.
Video games producer Electronic Arts (EA) has revealed its plans for EA SPORTS PGA TOUR Golf Challenge, a new, casual golf game for Facebook that launches in winter 2010.
It features real-time 3D gameplay on Facebook and expands on the EA SPORTS social game portfolio that also includes FIFA Superstars and Madden NFL Superstars.
The game, says the company, offers a fun and compelling social gameplay experience for a wide-range of sports fans and their friends.
Among the other companies, leading digital publisher Telltale Games is expanding into social media gaming with Back to the Future: Blitz Through Time, a new free-to-play Facebook game.
This kicks off a major new initiative for the company’s publishing strategy that will see complementary free-to-play social games launch in advance of many major Telltale game releases. (Read: Facebook Gaming Going Back to the Future)
As social gaming is gaining momentum, companies are also trying to leverage social media reach for enhanced brand communications.
Here’s an example. Embedded within the Facebook experience, Elfmas Town users can choose from a selection of fun holiday games to play, earn rewards and share with friends.
Office products company OfficeMax is creating its holiday eGreeting site powered by JibJab, ElfYourself.com, and has announced the launch of ElfmasTown.com. (Read: Go, Play in the Elfmas Town on Facebook)
Film company DreamWorks Animation SKG and Zynga announced that Megamind, the self-described “incredibly handsome master of all villainy,” will become a neighbor to all 17 million game players on FarmVille.
Megamind himself was to launch his very own “Mega-Farm,” a brand new themed landmark within the popular social game that incorporates the storyline and characters from the studio’s feature film, Megamind, which opened in theaters on Nov. 5. (Read: Megamind to Play in Mega-Farm on FarmVille)
Also, the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies announced that it is extending its partnership with Zynga, the maker of FarmVille.
For a ten-day period, Farmers began offering FarmVille players a likeness of its Farmers Insurance Airship, a 246-foot-long Zeppelin.
When players placed the Farmers Airship on their virtual farm, they received free “wither protection” for their crops. (Read: Farmers Airship on FarmVille Facebook Game)
Likewise, ETX Capital has launched a fantasy trading game on Facebook enabling millions of users worldwide to compete against friends on the world’s financial markets.
ETX Capital Trader offers a real time trading experience where users can practice their trading skills with virtual money. (Read: Playing Fantasy Trading Game on Facebook)
“EA SPORTS is pioneering new ways to play games online by creating entertaining experiences that resonate with both casual and hardcore gamers alike,” said Andrew Wilson, senior vice president of worldwide development, EA SPORTS.
“Our growing portfolio of premium social gaming products, including EA SPORTS PGA TOUR Golf Challenge, provides unique new opportunities for fans to experience sports games online, while also helping us reach an evolving fan base.”
Developed at EA SPORTS Tiburon, the game allows participants to play rounds of golf to earn experience and level up through their career while also unlocking world famous golf courses.
Daily challenges will allow players to compete against their Facebook friends, with weekly champions crowned as players vie for golf supremacy on Facebook.
Tailored to a casual gaming audience, the game features accessible, easy to master game play mechanics, including one-click swing, easy aiming with a mouse or keyboard, an assortment of custom clubs, and a variety of shot types.
At launch, it will offer a series of gameplay modes and additional opportunities to customize and accelerate a player’s career that can be purchased via micro-transactions.
It is the third game developed by a newly formed EA SPORTS On-Demand team, joining the previous releases of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online and Madden NFL Superstars.
The On-Demand group includes game developers with experience across multiple EA SPORTS franchises and was formed to accelerate the expansion of the EA SPORTS direct-to-consumer game portfolio.