We’re seeing more and more social gaming titles build out a presence onto mobile devices. But we’ve yet to see one come to Facebook and mobile at once.
Electronic Arts’ EA2D, a younger studio focused on building cross-platform games, is bringing Dragon Age: Legends to Facebook and mobile devices through HTML5. The title has been in beta since last fall, but is opening up to the public throughout this coming week.
With both the Facebook title and its mobile companion plus EA’s console and PC game Dragon Age II arriving on March 8, this amounts to an aggressive and fully cross-platform marketing play by the gaming giant. However, EA stresses that Dragon Age Legends doesn’t just exist to upsell gamers to the $60 console version.
“This is a standalone game. It’s seen as an extension of the franchise, not as a marketing tool for other Dragon Age products,” said spokesperson Cindy Lum. “This game is going to have a life of its own.”
In beta since last fall, Dragon Age: Legends has seen favorable reviews and it’s been dubbed a “Facebook game for people who hate Facebook games.” It’s a turn-based role-playing game with a medieval theme: in it, you assume one of the classic roles as a warrior, rogue or mage.
EA2D’s calling the mobile version a companion, since it’s not a fully-fledged access point into the game. It’s really quite basic, actually. It allows players to engage in time-based mechanics, such as crafting potions over two or three-hour periods or collecting gold from friends. Players can also check their currency balance on the mobile version, although they can’t quite buy anything there yet. For now, EA2D is promoting the mobile companion at dal.ea2d.com to players who have already signed up for the Facebook game.
“We’re really proud of the fact that we went after HTML5. There are just more capabilities for cross-platform play and we know it’s the future, so we decided to go all in,” said John Coligan, a senior product manager for the game. “You don’t need browser plug-ins to make the design, animations or sounds happen.”
The game monetizes through a virtual currency called “Crowns” while there’s also an earned in-game currency called gold.
HTML5 is a key component of Facebook’s mobile strategy going forward and the company has actively been encouraging its biggest developers to experiment and push the limits of what it can do. Zynga also recently acquired a Germany company Dextrose AG to beef up its HTML5 capabilities while Disney just bought Finnish HTML5 developers Rocket Pack this week.