Commentary

Starz Promotes Spartacus with Facebook Game

Starz is promoting the second season of its Spartacus series, “Spartacus: Vengeance,” with a social game on Facebook that allows players to experience the glorious, non-OSHA-compliant career of a professional gladiator-turned-rebel in ancient Rome.

Like the show, Spartacus: Vengeance The Game -- also developed for Starz by Large Animal Games -- is a sequel to an earlier installment , Spartacus: The Game, which launched on Facebook in January 2011. The new game takes players to new locales and challenges, and exists dependently of the first online social game. In additional to personal combat there is a strategic layer to the game, as players must build and equip an army, liberate slaves and other prisoners, and wrest strongholds from Roman control.

Mara Winokur, senior vice president for digital media, business development and strategy at Starz Media, as well as lead executive for Starz Digital Media, geeked out in a statement touting  “new elements such as improved visuals, multi-fighter battles, a more robust game economy, advanced game progressions, and more varied strategic options.”

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Visitors who watch the sneak preview video teaser for Spartacus: Vengeance The Game on Facebook are then able to “like” the game, which in turn gives them access when it goes live on January 27 (the show itself debuts on January 27 at 10 pm ET/PT). Wade Tinney, CEO of Large Animal Games, recalled that the first installment, Spartacus: The Game, produced approximately 4 million registered users, including more than 1,200,000 monthly active users at its peak, and held out hope for even more engagement the second time around.

“Spartacus: Vengeance” marks the delayed return of a popular but troubled series. The first season, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” won critical acclaim and a cult following after it debuted in January 2010, but the series was then derailed by the tragic illness and death of leading man Andy Whitfield from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in September 2011. Spartacus is played by Liam McIntyre in the second season of the series.

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