Why Jersey Shore’s Facebook Game Is a Huge Hit

Living the life of a gorilla juice head or orange-skinned party girl—even virtually—is proving appealing to many Facebook users.

MTV’s Jersey Shore Facebook game now attracts approximately 1.7 million monthly unique players, a surge of 70 percent since it launched last July, according to MTV/VH1 digital gm Kristen Frank.

The game, which allows users to assume avatar identities of the reality hit's cast of characters, has garnered 20 million total visits since launch. And as more and more avatar Snookies, Situations and JWoWWs have logged on, they’ve continued to purchase accessories for their characters, such as T-shirts, sneakers and energy drinks. Frank said the average revenue per player from virtual good sales has skyrocketed by 200 percent since last summer.

Jersey Shore on Facebook is relatively simple, reminiscent of Zynga’s FarmVille, and there’s not a lot of action or strategy. Players seek to earn virtual coins by completing tasks, including GTL-ing (the show’s signature activities of gym, tan, laundry). They can also challenge other virtual Shore denizens in the game’s "Battle Dome," using moves like throwing grenades or spray tanning their opponents.

Although the game was designed to be supported entirely by virtual goods, its popularity has started getting advertisers’ attention. Recently, Jersey Shore gamers were able to earn extra currency for watching a two-and-a-half-minute trailer for Paramount’s Natalie Portman vehicle No Strings Attached. That promotion generated 1.7 million streams, with 64 percent of participants making it through the whole trailer.

MTV has experiment with social games before, but Jersey Shore marks the network’s first full-fledged attempt at launching a stand-alone Facebook game tied to a series. The key to this game’s success, according to Frank, has been keeping it fresh. MTV’s gaming team regularly incorporates themes and items from recent episodes, such as the mini motorcycle that Pauly D and The Situation used to cheer up a lovesick Ronnie.

“The real-time nature of the game reinforces what happens on the show,” said Frank. “For fans of any of our series, people want to continue the experience, especially if they are emotionally tied to the show, so we’re constantly trying to build new experiences.”