Earlier this month, Ford launched a virtual version of its Focus car in "The Sims 3" virtual life game. While the integration allows players to use the virtual car, it does not allow them to learn about interior features, layout and telematics and entertainment gadgetry.
A new program that puts the Fiesta car and Edge Crossovers in a different life experience game enables players to do just that. The new program, which integrates a virtual Ford showroom with a console game, also makes the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker the first company to launch a branded space within the North American version of PlayStation Home, a free platform for PlayStation 3.
Not only does the virtual showroom allow users to see both interiors and exteriors of the Fiesta and Edge, it enables them to interact with a virtual version of the Ford Sync, and play games with virtual-reality rewards.
Brian McClary, Ford's social and emerging media specialist, said in a release that the Ford showroom "gives players an opportunity to check out our vehicles in an environment where most people wouldn't expect to see Ford."
This is how it works: a player directs an avatar to enter the showroom, for which the player gets a T-shirt with the Ford logo. The avatar can walk around the showroom and see the two vehicles, Fiesta and Edge, while a virtual Ford representative greets avatars and shows them the vehicles and games. Avatars can also get into the vehicles. Ford says the virtual interiors are true-to-life in detail and function.
"Special attention has been given to the details of the vehicles so that users get as close to a showroom experience as possible," said McClary. "We want users to really feel like they are inside one of the vehicles."
They can, for instance, pair a virtual mobile phone, which is in the car, with the vehicle's Bluetooth telematics system, Sync. Once the phone is paired with the system, up pops a menu offering three games: Music Quest, Turn-by-Turn Quest and Phone Quest.
The games also dangle virtual rewards. For example, in the Music Quest game, where players' avatars plug into an MP3 player, players get a Sync-branded virtual MP3 player with docking station that they can take to their own PlayStation Home apartment.
With Turn-by-Turn Quest, a map leads players to a puzzle that, when completed, gives the avatar a holographic digital globe.
Once players have completed the games they return to the showroom, where they get a virtual digital picture frame with the Sync brand on it.
"The purpose of Ford participating in PlayStation Home is not only to educate users, but to help entertain as well," said McClary.