Developer EA2D’s Dragon Age Legends represents an experiment in cross-pollination between console video games and social games. Below, we examine Legends’ life cycle before, during, and after the early March launch of its console sibling, Dragon Age 2.
Going into its alpha test phase in November 2010, Dragon Age Legends had some factors working against it. For one thing, other cross-pollination efforts between console video games and Facebook games like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed game, Project Legacy, either struggled to find an audience or didn’t have long term potential outside the game’s release window, as was the case with the Dante’s Inferno tie-in game. For another, fantasy role-playing games on Facebook hadn’t quite found success at that point, probably because they suffered from lack of developer attention. Take, for example, Hammerfall RPG which we reviewed at the close of 2008 and Castle Age that we reviewed in early 2010. Both went through copyright issues with the art that they used and consequently lost players as the developers regrouped and re-did the graphics, even though the games were solid.
Dragon Age Legends did have one thing going for it pre-launch, however, in the form of strong art direction. While nowhere near as elaborate as the graphics in its console sibling, Dragon Age Legends uses a dynamic and highly stylized art style. The art work in Dragon Age Legends consists of finely drawn 2D avatars in 3D space and elaborate animations for battle sequences, with the characteristic “avatar bounce” of early flash RPG games such as Adventure Quest. There is a high level of detail to the art in game from character customization features to different rooms in each players’ constructable castle headquarters.
In late February 2011, Dragon Age Legends entered a closed beta ahead of Dragon Age 2’s March 8 launch and steadily climbed to over 50,000 monthly active users and 15,000 daily active users. Players that participated in the closed beta received early access to the game ahead of its official, keeping its MAU and DAU counts consistent through the launch phase.
The original plan was to launch Legends the same day as Dragon Age 2’s launch, but developer EA2D kept the Facebook game in beta for an extra week, allowing players to invite their friends without requiring a code or EA.com registration to play the game. This resulted in a doubling of their daily active users from 20,000 to 40,000. A similar spike in DAU can be seen from March 18th to the 20th when Electronics Arts made a marketing push in their project “B R BFF?” for 100,000 Facebook “Likes” to unlock Dura’s Blue Flame – a magical amulet which enhanced avatar statistics in Dragon Age 2 – for all players earlier than the planned release of the item on March 25th.
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