Dog Show Friends on Facebook is the official game of NBC’s The National Dog Show, sponsored by Purina Dog Food. If ever there was a purposefully-made game targeted towards a specific segment of consumers, this is it. And so far, the results are looking good.
The premise behind Dog Show Friends, much like other pet care games, is the interaction with your puppy. In this case, the player must feed, bathe, play, and love the virtual animals — with each of those actions measured by numbers above the appropriate icons. Once the interactions reach a certain threshold they can then be used in puppy training; some tricks require additional items which are earned, bought or gifted. Learning tricks gains the player experience while the puppy earns levels which in turn unlocks more tricks.
Achievement can be published on the player’s profile to share rewards with other friends. Friends can also either buy the resources required for tricks or ask for them. The gating stat or resource is energy which is regained by getting your puppy to nap on the couch or by purchasing energy potions.
The game has the usual hallmarks of social games. Log-in every day to pick up rewards, gather a group of friends that play the game to assist each other by gifting and asking for resources, and purchasing resources. The more advanced tricks require training materials that have to be gifted or bought. Decorating your doghouse is in the game but visiting your friends to view their doghouses and probably interacting with their puppies in some way to gain rewards is not, but will most likely be soon.
At this stage in development, the player earns in-game cash – bones – for clicking on friends’ icons. There are three types of in-game cash, all earned in-game to varying degrees. Gold bones are used to buy training materials and energy potions can be purchased with Facebook credits. Regular bones come easy and are used to buy decorations and various food and treats. Finally, energy tokens are used to buy energy refills.
The game is currently in early beta but is drawing a lot of interest due to promotion on the show as well as being featured on the website as the official game. That it is sponsored by Purina Dog Food is made clear throughout the game with various Purina brands such as Puppy Chow and Beggin’ Strips, each featured as different stat-improving foods; the game is also hosted by a cartoon rendition of John O’Hurley, the show’s host. Interestingly enough, the game is not promoted on Purina’s website.
20 million viewers tune into The National Dog Show each year and its meteoric rise to one million monthly active users in less than a month shows that national promotion of a quality social game can indeed draw players. Competitions and trophies are not yet in-game and these features are the real goals of the show and the game, but current players can be on the championship forefront with their trained puppies when the show floor does open. Dog Show Friends is simple game that allows dog lovers and fans of the TV show to pick a virtual puppy and groom and train it to championship status. Having a champion dog is a dream for many dog lovers, and when they have little time or chance to accomplish this real life, they can now do it virtually.