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Social games add dimension

Branded social games are gaining traction with marketers seeking to add another dimension to their interactive programs. Discovery Communications is one company planning a social game for later this year to promote the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch show.

Sue Perez-Jackson, director of licensing at Discovery Channel, a division of Discovery Communications, explained there are two major reasons for marketers to use branded social games: brand exposure and the potential for revenue generation. “This is a great opportunity to expand more reach of the brand and acquire more customers,” she said.

Discovery Communications will deploy the social media game on Facebook in November to promote The Deadliest Catch, which chronicles the real-life adventures of five Alaska king crab boats.

The game will allow players to virtually act as captains of their own crab boats in the Bering Sea.

“Really what this does is give fans an ongoing interactive experience,” added Perez-Jackson.

Other brands using social games include Kia Motors, Scion and 7-Eleven.

For production company The Institute, these games act as a brand extension of its entertainment-based projects.

“It keeps the product top of mind,” said Scott Gardenhour, co-founder of The Institute.

Game developer Hive Media, which was founded specifically to create branded social games, has worked with both Discovery and The Institute on projects. Brian Laing, founder and CEO of Hive Media, said entertainment brands can use interactive games to test story lines.

Augie Ray, senior analyst of social computing at Forrester Research, said social games are still in their early stages, but companies will look for ways to create revenue using them in coming years.

“It’s still in the nascent stages. There’s a lot of interest in the growth of social games,” he said. “In the next few years it will become more of a concrete strategy for marketers as they come to better understand their audiences’ social media habits, and consumers become more accustomed to social gaming.”

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