World Series Superstars is the latest branded sports game from EA’s Playfish, following on the heels of Madden NFL Superstars and EA Sports FIFA Superstars. The game launched just last week to coincide with the start of the Major League Baseball season.
Like other Superstars titles, World Series puts players in a managerial role of the sport where they buy players for the team, upgrade their home stadiums, and organize game schedules. The number of individual ballgames a player can play at a time is restricted by Tickets, which players earn over a certain amount of time, buy with premium in-game currency, or by win in ballgames. Primary social interactions come from leaderboards, achievements, “Brag” posts on Walls, and a gameplay mode called Exhibition where players can challenge friends’ teams without spending Tickets. World Series monetizes through selling premium currency via Facbeook Credits, credit card, or offer wall transactions.
World Series adds some significant features to the formula made popular by its predecessors. Foremost is the interactive game simulation, which builds on Madden NFL’s semi-interactive experience that let players slightly affect a game’s outcome with Game Changer bonus items (e.g. a Field Goal item that the player can click post-touchdown). World Series goes even more interactive, allowing players to command the team on a pitch-by-pitch basis throughout the game simulation. While playing defense, players can order the pitcher to pitch to batter, pitch around or walk a batter; while playing offense, players can command batters to swing away, bunt, sacrifice bunt, or runners to steal bases. Players can also use a series of Game Changer items for an instantaneous action like Home Run. Players may opt out of the interactive experience by skipping single innings, skipping the entire game, or switching on the simulation mode so that World Series plays the game itself while the player watches.
Thanks in part to this deeper interactive user experience, the training phase in World Series is also more robust compared to Madden or FIFA. Instead of assigning out a flat score to all players on the team, the user can assign different amounts of points to specific positions. For example, a player might want to funnel points to a specific pitcher for a higher chance of strikeouts.
The last “new” component World Series brings to the Superstars lineup is the depth of social hooks. Some of these are tweaks to existing social hooks in other games; for example, players can win Tickets by beating their friends in Exhibition mode. Others are extensions of existing hooks, like the stadium building system that now lets you recruit friends for construction work instead of just asking them for gifts to complete the construction. If friends are unavailable, players can fill construction positions by purchasing workers with premium currency.
In the coming weeks, Playfish intends to roll out a Predictor mode similar to Madden NFL’s weekly feature that lets players predict the outcome of actual games in the season. Because MLB is played on a daily basis as opposed to weekly, we expect to see some tweaks to the mode that may give rise to more of a gambling feature where players can win prizes.
World Series so far has 43,000 daily active users and 100,000 monthly active users after its first week. You can follow its progress on AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.