While some people accuse video games as being one of the factors contributing to a perceived decline of interest in sailing, the video game might instead be the sport’s savior. Companies like Zynga have shown that the Facebook generation love social games.
Last time around, the statistics for the Volvo Ocean Race online game were pretty staggering. For a brand, the prospect of engaging an audience for 24 hours a day for 9 months is a dream. Unlike the America’s Cup, which is very start-stop : bursts of huge activity followed by long periods of contrived filler, the format of the Volvo Ocean Race allows for continued engagement.
As the start of the Volvo Ocean Race draws closer, organisers have released more details about the new online sailing game. The winner of the 2011-12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race Game will drive away in a brand new Volvo XC60 car.
Some have criticised the games for being too easy – for not being hard enough for true sailors, but their simplicity is the thing that brings a wide non-sailing audience – some of whom stay and become sailors as a result of this introduction.
Created by United Games, the all-new game will be launched on October 29, the day of the in-port racing in Alicante, and features many enhancements over the previous version which attracted over 220,000 players during the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race.
United Games CEO Marijn Harinck said:
“We’re very excited to show the game to all the Volvo Ocean Race fans. There have been a lot of changes since the last virtual edition of the Volvo Ocean Race Game. Social media exploded, Twitter has become the number one newsfeed. With this in mind our team created a state of the art racing game where players can test their ability to navigate a Volvo Open 70 across the oceans.
“The last edition of the game was a huge success, though we think that the Volvo Ocean Race Game 2011-12 will outclass all sailing games. With Facebook integration and easy playable via mobile we can assure it will be easier to connect and sail your virtual yacht. But be aware, the competition will be also harder with over 500.000 boats on the water.”
And just in case the level of engagement wasn’t enough via a browser, the 2011-12 game will be available to play on iPhones and Android devices.
Social elements of the game will include the ability to tag friends and check how they are faring against them as well as sharing the game with other Facebook users. A built in “Friend Bar” within the game interface will enable all players to create and interact with their own communities as they play the game. Players will also be able to post to Facebook and Twitter directly from the game itself.
There is also a business model that is based on in-game purchases. Basic entry for the game is free but players will be able to purchase extra credits to access special features and information.
Volvo Ocean Race Communications Director, Jon Bramley said:
“Integration with Facebook and Twitter and the fact that the game can be played on several major news and sports websites, as well as on mobile devices, will dramatically extend its reach. The Volvo Ocean Race already has more than 50,000 Facebook fans and we are looking forward to welcoming many more when the game launches.”
Volvo Ocean Race Game Schedule:
- October 14th – Start of Open Beta Test Race
- October 18th – Finish of Open Beta Test Race
- October 29th – Start of official Practice Race
- November 2nd – Finish of official Practice Race
- November 5th – Start of Leg 1 Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa