Embassy Interactive是一家游戏开发/设计公司，它最近刚和THQ和UFC合作开发了《UFC Undisputed Fight Nation》这款Facebook游戏，以此发挥UFC的品牌影响力和Facebook强大的社交应用机制。据游戏邦了解，Social Times就开发有竞争力的品牌内容所面临的挑战，对加里·金泽（Gary Kanazawa，Embassy Interactive的董事长），赖恩·唐纳森（Ryan Donaldson，Embassy的联合创始人/首席产品官）以及迈克·道尔（Mike Doyle，THQ社交游戏的执行制作人）进行了采访。
加里接着表示，品牌社交游戏拥有非品牌游戏所没有的优势和挑战。和大品牌合作的游戏开发商不能像小型发行商一样，擅自对游戏进行更新和修改，它们所执行的每一步操作，比如更改游戏人物和艺术效果时都需要得到授权方的认可才行。这就是说，品牌游戏具有知名度广，质量高的优势。据游戏邦了解，Embassy开发《UFC Undisputed Fight Nation》时就牢牢坚守这一原则，总体上，它也比较符合Embassy与品牌内容和非品牌内容的合作策略：
Embassy不论是在品牌内容，还是非品牌内容上都取得了成功。Embassy开发的IP包括iPhone的《Tangram Puzzle Pro》，它在美国应用商店上排名第二。Embassy通过与UFC合作，可以把Facebook的社交游戏玩法和AAA游戏丰富的视觉效果相结合，实现游戏内容的品牌化发展。Embassy也曾和其他的知名品牌合作，在此我们不做详述。
麦克在谈论品牌内容时表示，“THQ在社交领域有很多的机会，今年我们的选择将更为慎重，更富前瞻性，同时我们要加深对社交媒介的理解…我们还有一些正在开发中的游戏。最值得一提的是《Saints Row：Total Control》已经在Facebook上进行测试了。《UFC Undisputed Fight Nation》早期的成功让我们对社交领域充满信心，我们相信自己可以朝这个方向迈进。”他接着补充，“我认为我们无法笼统地表示，与大品牌合作就能为进军社交领域提供竞争优势——这是一个很主观的想法……”这个看法很有趣，但也同时表明借助品牌连襟的优势，在Facebook上获得成功已经比数年前更困难了。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
Branded Games on Facebook: THQ and Embassy Interactive Discuss Launching UFC Undisputed Fight Nation
Social games pundits have been claiming for years now that as far as Facebook games go, we haven’t seen the Mario of Facebook. In fact, we’re more akin to the early Atari days, and are waiting for the next revolution. That said, one of the obvious claims for the future of Facebook gaming is the idea that branded games are going to take over the world, and while the idea does seem attractive, so far there haven’t been any Top 40 hits that leverage branding towards their success.
Enter Embassy Interactive, a talented development/design house who’ve recently partnered with THQ and the UFC to launch UFC Undisputed Fight Nation, a Facebook game attempting to leverage UFC’s powerful brand and the mechanics of a great Facebook social application. I had a chance to discuss the challenges of developing solid branded content with Gary Kanazawa, President of Embassy Interactive, Ryan Donaldson, Embassy’s co-founder/Chief Product Officer, and Mike Doyle, Executive Producer of Social Games at THQ.
The game kicked off as a “collaborative, creative effort between THQ, UFC and The Embassy Interactive to extend our existing partnership in games through to the broader context of social media,” according to Mike Doyle. This is standard practice for social games development, with a developer like Embassy getting on board and helping THQ and UFC work out what they want out of the game.
Gary and Ryan then explained that the initial process had several creative steps.
We knew we couldn’t recreate the console product on Facebook. We talked about everything from instant fighting a la Mafia Wars to 3D playbacks to comic book style still images depicting the action. We wanted the player to get a sense of training and fighting, building up rivalries, and constantly working towards being the best fighter out there. The combat mechanic in particular went through many iterations on paper, and then several more during production, before settling on what players are enjoying today.
Interestingly, the game itself does not use animated fighters in its gameplay or visuals, but rather takes a collectible-card-game style effect, where players gain ‘moves’ as cards, and are able to stack their deck with those moves in preparation for a fight. When the fight launches, the two fighters attack each other using moves from their deck until a victor is assumed. The appeal here, though, is that the animations and sounds during the fight are pleasant and engaging. There’s also been care taken to make sure fights last the right length, and overall the experience feels deep while not feeling overly complex or long. Ryan Donaldson, Embassy’s Chief Product Officer, explained that “We expected players to skip the fight after trying it a few times, but surprisingly about 85% of players watch the entire fight.”
The game had some strong viral success early on in its run, and during beta, “the game grew to nearly 100K MAU with around 18K DAU” and is now at 206,000 MAU. The UFC is planning to launch some commercials to help support the game in the coming weeks and months, and those should have a strong effect on the numbers. So just how has it been for Embassy to work with big brands like UFC and THQ? Gary explains:
“THQ, UFC and Embassy approach the game as a collaboration, with each bringing unique value add to the table. Embassy brings a deep understanding of Facebook games and what makes a good social mechanic and UFC/THQ bring their deep experience with the UFC brand as it appeals to gamers.”
Gary later mentioned something that we’ve been seeing from this end a lot, as well: branded social games have some major advantages and challenges that unbranded games don’t. When working with a big brand, a game developer doesn’t have the ability to iterate in the same way as a small publisher, because the characters and art assets in their game need to be handled with care, and decisions need to be approved by licensors. That said, branded games have the bonus of having recognizable, quality assets. Embassy had to work with this in mind when creating UFC Undisputed Fight Nation, and overall, it fits into Embassy’s strategy of working with both branded and unbranded content:
Embassy has had success with both branded and unbranded content. Embassy created IP includes Tangram Puzzle Pro for iPhone, which reached the #2 spot in the US app store. As seen with UFC, Embassy has shown an ability to combine strong FB social play with AAA rich graphical look, making it a good fit to build games with top brands. Embassy is also working with other top entertainment brands, which we are not able to share yet.
When talking with Mike (pictured to the right with an awesome prop gun from Dictrict 9) about branded content, he explained that there is a “great opportunity for THQ in the social space and this year has been about making careful, forward looking choices and deepening our knowledge of the medium… We do have additional games in development. Notably, Saints Row: Total Control is now in beta on Facebook. The early success we’re seeing with UFC Undisputed Fight Nation can’t help but make us feel optimistic both about the space and our ability to move within it.” He also went on to explain that “I don’t think one can say in general terms that using brands provides a competitive advantage in the social space or not – it’s a very subjective thing as certain brands lend themselves intuitively to this space more than others.” It’s interesting, and certainly proving that using brands on Facebook has proven more difficult in general than anybody thought a few years ago. We’ll be keeping an eye on Embassy in the future, and recommend you give their game a spin and let us know in the comments your impressions and predictions about branded games.（Source：Social Times）