MyTown, the iPhone location-based game that has quickly picked up 1.5 million players over the past few months, is reaching into traditional media for partnerships. Developer Booyah announced yesterday that it has struck a deal with the Travel Channel to promote Food Wars, a new show.
Unlike some media partnerships, there’s actually a clear relation between the game and show. In Food Wars, the producers will move between cities in each episode, challenging restaurants to face their menus off against one another — in essence, it’s a competitive game between restaurateurs.
In MyTown, players move around within their own real-life city, buying and upgrading properties to gain levels and collect rent from friends. So to loop in Food Wars, Booyah only needs to add branded items at grocery stores and restaurants, giving players an extra edge and the show the visibility it wants.
Location-based social games have always had clear potential for advertising; Foursquare, the biggest competitor to MyTown, started getting ad and business service deals in mid-2009. Virtual goods and media deals are a more recent phenomenon, though.
Both Foursquare and Gowalla, another large competitor, already have deals with the Travel Channel and others, like Zagat and the New York Times. MyTown, for its part, also has a big campaign with H&M that adds virtual clothing on the game with the help of Appssavvy, which also led the current deal.
Expect more tie-ins that give location gamers a real-world incentive for checking out a brand, or vice versa. Once more marketers figure out how to tie their products to the compulsiveness of gaming, there will be no shortage of similar deals.