RocketFrog, a new virtual casino by the developer of the same name, recently launched on Facebook, offering benefits for both brands and users. Advertisers gain the ability to take over the whole game platform for a day, while players may compete for real-world prizes from the day’s sponsors.
RocketFrog is split into two main components: the daily tournaments, which consist of competitive poker, blackjack and slots games; and the regular games, which include poker, blackjack, slots, roulette and three variations on video poker. The latter may be played to earn chips, which may subsequently be used to continue competing in further free games. Tournaments, meanwhile, use their own dedicated bank of chips, which players are awarded when they begin playing. Tournaments are not open 24/7 — they are open between 12 and 7pm PST, presumably to give the development team time to rebrand the experience for the next day’s sponsors.
To encourage user retention, a “loyalty” program is in place to reward those who play regularly. By competing in games on a regular basis, users gain a number of benefits including increased bonuses on login, discounts on virtual goods, limited edition virtual goods, discounts on currency purchases, sneak previews of new games and access to other game features. A player’s loyalty level is reset each month, however, so it’s not possible to play intensely for a month and then take advantage of “premium” features forevermore — players must play consistently to continue enjoying these features.
The various casino games are simply presented with minimalist visuals and sound as well as prominent featuring of the day’s brand. The interface is simple and clear for each, though a little inconsistent — while poker and blackjack allow synchronous online play and chat with other virtual gamblers, roulette, slots and video poker are strictly solo affairs. Gameplay is strictly no frills and all business — the slot machine features no bonus games, for example, and a win in the card games is accompanied by a simple message rather than fireworks and cheering crowds. At the time of writing, the game rooms were rather sparsely populated, though this may be more to do with the time of day at which the game was tested rather than a lack of players.
When players aren’t playing the games, they are able to purchase virtual items both for themselves or friends. These items are completely useless in a practical sense, but may be “equipped” and displayed next to the player’s name and profile picture in the synchronous multiplayer games. It’s difficult to fathom why players might want to purchase these items — given that they provide no benefits to gameplay whatsoever and only appear in two of the available games — but some may wish to simply acquire them as vanity items or a means of displaying how successful they have been at the game.
RocketFrog perhaps isn’t the best casino game on Facebook — it’s perfectly competent, yet unremarkable — but what makes it noteworthy is the excellent integration of the brand partners. Every game is branded with the day’s sponsor in such a way as to give it a distinctive visual appearance without being intrusive to the gameplay itself. The fact that the tournaments offer real-world (non-monetary) prizes as an incentive to play will help encourage user retention, though it’s worth noting that the competition rules only allow legal residents of the United States who are physically present in either the U.S. or parts of Canada to actually participate in the promotions. Opening the competitions up to a worldwide audience will help the game’s user figures significantly, though will obviously present more significant logistical challenges to RocketFrog and its partners.
RocketFrog’s achievement, then, is not in being a particularly inspiring casino game, but in showing the potential for social gaming as an interactive advertising platform. Brands looking for an interesting way through which they can engage their audience should look to this game for an example of how advertising imagery can be incorporated into a game without the player feeling like it is being forced upon them.
You can follow RocketFrog’s progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
While not the finest casino game out there, this game stands more as an example of how advertising and brand partnerships can be well integrated into social games.