Early Look: The Dating Game

The Dating Game is an adaptation of ABC’s classic TV game show developed by 3G Studios, a former console game developer. The company’s first Facebook game, Brave Arms, peaked at 15,000 MAU last summer, according to our data service tracking application, AppData. The Dating Game is the first of several licensed brands 3G plans to release as Facebook games as part of an agreement with Sony and Paramount Pictures over the next two years.

The Dating Game follows the game show format of the TV series. Players take the role of a male or female panelist or contestant and either ask or answer a series of questions in three rounds. The panelist player awards contestants points based on how much they like the answers and at the end of three rounds, a winner is declared. In the actual show, the winner would go on a date with the panelist paid for by the TV network; the Facebook game instead creates a postcard image of the two avatars on a date. The most interesting feature here is that during gameplay, the player has no idea who the other players are in the round; only when a player wins a “date” does the veil of anonymity drop to reveal who the person on the other end of the avatar is.

The game monetizes through selling premium currency (hearts) and the standard currency (points). Hearts can buy virtual gift items to “bribe” panelists with and points can buy virtual items to customize your avatar or to buy game hosting tokens, which increases the numbers of games you can start per week. Points can be bought only with Facebook Credits or PayPal, while hearts can also be purchased with Social Gold, Spare Change, or via special offers. 3G tells us we can expect to see Google Checkout and Amazon QuickPay as payment options in the coming weeks.

We’re seeing a push for licensed games on Facebook and we’re also seeing a spike in dating service app users on Facbeook. You’d think both factors would make The Dating Game a natural hybrid game/dating service, but as it turns out, the game struggles a bit with brand recognition because the name of the show itself is a popular culture cliche.

“We’re never going to get 100% brand recognition out of it,” 3G CEO James Kosta tells us. “But the game matches the target audience on Facebook, [40-year-old] women. Those people generally do remember The Dating Game.”

As for the dating service potential, The Dating Game is affiliated with Match.com and displays ads for the paid dating service in-game. Kosta, who incidentally met his wife on Match.com, told us that additional integration between the dating service and The Dating Game is “something we’re definitely exploring.”

Kosta also says there could be potential for more game features through Facebook Groups in the future. As an example, he talked about the possibility of limiting a Dating Game play session to a specific Group. Currently, the game allows you to limit to just your friends or to open it up to everybody. In Kosta’s example, a new student at a university could use The Dating Game to meet and interact with other students within the school’s Facebook Group.

The Dating Game officially launched March 23. You can follow its progress on AppData, our data service tracking application traffic and growth on social platforms.