Big Fish Games Enters Social Games Arena With Faunasphere For Facebook

faunasphereSeattle’s Big Fish Games is bringing Faunasphere, its flagship MMO, to Facebook. This marks the first Facebook game launch for Big Fish Games, and the game will be completely interoperable with the version of the game available at the Faunasphere home page. This is being launched as part of Big Fish Games “New Game Every Day!” strategy, where a new game is released daily. It is the first Facebook release in the series.

The Faunasphere game is a virtual world where players raise and breed creatures called Fauna who have the ability to help clean the pollution on the world of Faunasphere. The goal is to complete missions, gain points for your Fauna, and then have them gain levels and strength and accomplish bigger misssions. You then have the opportunity to breed them using their Genome maps to make rare types of Fauna.

While the engine may seem familiar to longtime social games players, the big difference here is that this isn’t like (Lil) Green Patch or Mafia Wars: This is a fully animated, high production value MMO where you control a character as he/she moves across the land of Faunasphere, attempting to clean up the pollution. The story is involved, with engaging characters and great animations to lead you to your next quest. The animations on the characters, landscapes and items are truly a cut above what we’ve seen here on Facebook, and in my opinion, the smooth Flash animation and clean lines are a step above Farmville. The sound design is great: it feels rewarding to hear your Fauna gobble up a small vegetable.

Faunasphere feels more like a downloadable PC game like Spore than anything I’ve seen on Facebook so far, and the sense of discovery of the land of Faunasphere is exciting. A series of achievements keeps the treasure hunter type player happy, and the ability to breed and customize your various Fauna means that the adventure is different for each player. The fact that you are in an actual MMO, where other players move across the land in real-time will probably surprise a lot of casual social game players who don’t usually see that type of activity in their games.

The move signifies a big step for longtime game developers Big Fish Games. The company has been in the casual games business a lot longer than the existing champions like Zynga and Crowdstar, and they are putting their best foot forward by bring Faunasphere to Facebook in its entirety. “MMOs are the original social game,” said Toby Ragaini, Big Fish Games vice president, MMO. “What’s great about bringing MMOs to Facebook is that you have a built-in network of friends to play with. People who play other social games on Facebook will enjoy the increased immersive experience that Faunasphere offers, thanks to the ability to have real-time, synchronous interactions with friends and fellow players. And because Faunasphere was designed for the casual gamer, it’s a perfect fit for the Facebook audience.” This has been confirmed to be one of a series of social games initiatives that Big Fish is launching, and I feel the success of this game will determine whether they bring their full arsenal of games to Facebook, but if this game is any indication we can count on seeing more Big Fish Games.

Try the game here.