NASCAR’s first social gaming experience makes another good case study of how to introduce an online game, ensure that game play spreads virally across social media and builds loyalty and repeat visits by rewarding players.
The game, NASCAR Pro Championship presented by Sprint, immediately gains traction in two ways: the launch of the game coincides with TNT’s coverage of 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup series and continues through the final race on Nov. 20, and it gains exposure to an already established audience by being featured within Car Town, the largest automotive and motorsports game on Facebook with about 9 million users.
“The NASCAR industry continues to be uniquely positioned through the partnership with Car Town to introduce the excitement of stockcar racing to a new generation of fans,” John Martin, managing director, NASCAR Digital, said in a release.
Other brands have taken that same path, finding the Car Town social gaming platform a good fit to tightly integrate their brand with other events the companies run elsewhere, both offline and online.
For Toyota, Car Town players were able to explore a mock-up of the showroom at the Detroit Auto Show where in January Toyota unveiled some of its new Prius hybrid models. Universal Pictures and its film, Fast Five, found Car Town a good fit for a game integrated with the films fast cars and road races set amid beautiful Brazilian scenery. Universal also took advantage of many of the features Car Town publisher Cie Games offers, for example, players were surprised to encounter an in-game incentive of virtual gifts to purchase tickets as they played. And national insurer State Farm Insurance capitalized on the popularity of the game with a months-long campaign that gave players in-game rewards for safe virtual driving.
For NASCAR, people playing the game can race against virtual drivers on a series of three different tracks, complete a variety of missions and involve their social network to win the coveted NASCAR Pro Championship title.
The game allows friends to compete among one another through a series of challenges and activities that will earn them Sprint-branded virtual rewards and allow them to accumulate prizes they can add to their Car Town garage. The virtual rewards can be earned by watching a NASCAR 101 video featuring Miss Sprint Cup, by visiting Miss Sprint Cup’s Facebook page, and by sharing a picture of their virtual car with their Facebook friends.
To play on the competitive nature of gamers, leader boards track and rank scores and players can invite others to be their virtual fans. And to avoid frustration and repeat plays among players that may not reach the top of the board, each month the game is reset, a new challenge begins and a new champion is crowned.
As title sponsor, Sprint will be heavily integrated into the game with race graphics throughout, including a branded vehicle, race entrance, victory lane and leader board graphics.
The game is being promoted at NASCAR.com, Yahoo NASCAR and TNT NASCAR.
As an added bonus to encourage play, special codes will be delivered on-air during TNT’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series giving fans an opportunity to win prizes during their online game play.