If it involves cars, it may soon begin appearing in a social game near you. Cie Games, the company behind the Facebook game "Car Town," has launched two promotions this week -- one for the muscle car action film "Fast Five" and one for the real world Indianapolis 500 -- and is looking for more.
In the game, players collect and customize virtual cars and build their dream garages. Since launching last year, the game has attracted 8 million players, with nearly half of them playing three times a week. The game has led to a bevy of product integrations, from car companies paying to have their brands in the game to the two new promotions for "Fast Five" and the Indianapolis 500.
"We want to capture as much as car culture as possible and put it in a social game," Justin Choi, president and CEO of Cie Games, tells Marketing Daily. "What we're trying to do is really blend what's happening in the virtual and the real world and have touchpoints within the real world and in playing our game."
For the "Fast Five" promotion, Cie Games will include "Fast Five"-inspired tasks and mini games, in-game film integration (such as viewing a trailer for the "Fast and the Furious" sequel at the game's drive-in theater) and the ability to purchase tickets for the movie directly from the game. For that final piece, Regal Entertainment Group, which operates nearly 7,000 screens around the country, will promote the movie and the game with co-branded movie one-sheet posters (as well as through online and social channels).
For the Indy 500, Car Town players can construct their own IndyCar Series race car, test it on a virtual Indianapolis Motor Speedway and participate in a pit stop challenge.
The film and the iconic car race seem to be a natural fit for the social media game. But Choi says the company doesn't come at the partnerships lightly. "We pick brands where there's some kind of authentic integration," he says. "We've received requests from companies, [and] their idea wasn't very organic. We've helped them, saying: 'Let's go this way so that it's something the game players will appreciate.'"
Social games -- particularly those tied in with Facebook -- have become a huge focus of marketer interest, Choi says. And it's only going to grow as brands move beyond simply having a presence in social media to working on true engagement. "Getting on Facebook and getting fans was the 2010 thing," he says. "2011 will be about how to engage these people."