Starz premiering final season of Spartacus via its new social game, Battle for Nuceria

Premium cable channel Starz revealed today that it will premiere the first episode of the final season of Spartacus in its tie-in social game, Battle for Nuceria. The game launches today, and players who manage to earn a certain number of community points during the first six missions will be able to unlock the episode on Jan. 23, 2013, two days before it airs on television.

Battle for Nuceria is the third tie-in game for Spartacus, following Spartacus: The Game and Spartacus: Vengeance (both of which were published by 6waves); the game is playable both on the open web and via an iOS app. Both versions allow users to log in manually or via either Facebook or Twitter. The iOS version will involve geocaching and augmented reality; we’re told that when users check in via Foursquare’s Venues API, the game overlays a PNG sequence of images to give the appearance of Romans and/or Rebels being at the location.

Battle for Nuceria is being billed as a trans-media experience combining users’ real-world activities and blending it with the show’s universe. The game delivers missions via video cutscenes featuring the show’s actors. Completing these missions will earn in-game rewards like ringtones, inside looks at the making of the show and the aforementioned early access to the final season. The game will also feature a leaderboard allowing users to compete for real-world prizes like props from the show and free movie tickets for a year.

Spartacus has never found a major audience among social games audiences, based on the data from our AppData traffic-tracking service. Spartacus: The Game was the bigger hit of the two previous tie-ins, with nearly 124,000 daily active users (the best gauge for a title’s core audience) back in March 2011, but it quickly lost traffic and now has 6,000 DAU. Spartacus: Vengeance, meanwhile barely cracked the 20,000 DAU mark earlier this year and now only has 800 DAU. Starz doesn’t seem to be aiming for a lasting social game this time around, since the show will end after this season, but it will be interesting to see how Battle for Nuceria is able to bring in and retain users by utilizing mid-core mechanics and real-world prizes.