RPGs look for brands to play with

What's the future hold for humankind? More MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games), and more brand presence in the gameplay.

What’s the future hold for humankind? More MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games), and more brand presence in the gameplay.

Gamers can now go online and see for themselves at Iprophesy.net, one of two recently created RPGs. Developed by Toronto-based digital boutique Secret Location, it launched in January as an integrated extension and traffic driver for I Prophesy, a 17-part original series on Vision TV examining potential futures for humanity. The digital shop also worked on CGI and graphic elements for the series.

The first MMORPG created for a TV show, Iprophesy.net lets gamers customize avatars to explore 13 worlds with various scenarios, from rising oceans to the advent of nanotechnology. Each world incorporates games, clips from the show and original filmed content. Players are encouraged to collaborate in real time to solve puzzles.

The game was also designed for sponsorship, such as branded apparel for avatars, contextual ads displayed throughout the game and the site can be re-skinned to suit brands’ needs. ‘We can completely re-envision the project to tailor it towards brands wanting this to be an experience that isn’t called I Prophesy, but is for their brand,’ says James Milward, CD and EP at Secret Location.

At press time, the MMORPG had logged 1,000 registered users and around 15,000 uniques. Tween girl gamers also have a new online destination where they can hang out, play together and chat, thanks to Ottawa-based interactive agency Fuel Industries. Built by Fuel’s licensed properties division, Spark City is a futuristic virtual world born from the agency’s All Girl Star Squad gaming property, which is featured on social gaming portal Allgirlarcade.com. It’s centred on the adventures of three girl gaming superstars and their intergalactic friends.

Currently running in an open beta version, Spark City was designed to provide a 360 experience for advertisers as well. Fuel recently signed a deal with U.S.-based toy company Jakks Pacific for an in-world store and branded game promoting its Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker. ‘It lets them build a richer experience,’ explains Mike Burns, CEO of Fuel Industries. ‘Kids and parents can go and interact with the toy before they ever go into a store.’

Fuel is presently working on adding a movie theatre to the virtual city and will launch webisodes in May with video pre-roll ad opps, and the agency is in talks with broadcasters and film companies looking to run trailers in the theatre. The cost for brand entry into Spark City could range between $25,000 and $200,000. ‘Every relationship has been so unique because of how integrated we can make it,’ says Burns.

The All Girl Arcade network is also available through a new iPhone application. To date, the portal has logged a million gameplays, with Spark City receiving an average of half an hour of engagement time per visit and 80% of users returning for multiple plays.