Electronic Arts is trying an interesting tactic that uses a Facebook version of a game to promote the console release.
The games company has announced the release of Dragon Age Legends for Facebook in February, according to GameSpy. Interestingly, playing the game gives people the chance to earn exclusive unlocks in Dragon Age II, due out for Xbox 360, Windows PCs, and the PlayStation 3 on March 8.
The game will share a setting with Dragon Age II but contain social elements, such as being able to ping a Facebook friends to take part in quests together.
“We are privileged to be working with BioWare to bring the Dragon Age universe to the hundreds of millions of gamers on Facebook,” Mark Spenner, general manager of EA 2D, said in a statement. “Our goal is to change the perception of social network games and attract new players to the Facebook platform by raising the quality bar. Dragon Age Legends will deliver a deep, sophisticated experience, and we will continue to delight gamers by adding new features and content far into the future.”
EA is the biggest game developer and also the second biggest in social gaming on Facebook through its ownership of Playfish, which it acquired in late 2009.
This is a smart play from EA. Some fans won’t go near a Flash game, preferring to wait for the full shebang on their console of choice. But I could imagine some fans would not want to wait the extra weeks for the game to launch or would be tempted by the unlocks offered on Facebook. This would help EA market the game to a wider audience and hopefully draw in casual gamers. If the game is well done, those casual players could get drawn into the world of the game and also feel a desire to use the features they’ve unlocked on the full version. Even if they never buy the console game, if they use Facebook Credits to buy virtual goods in the game it’s still a win for EA.
The main risk would be if the Facebook version falls below standard, thereby not only failing to make money but also diminishing the brand. The idea is sound but as ever, it’s all in the execution. If it works, I think we’ll see more integration of this kind.