By Randy Nelson From Inside Social Games
ESPN Sports Bar & Grill is a restaurant management simulation in the vein of Cafe World, with a strong focus on sports fandom and ESPN integration. Disney Playdom officially launched the game this week after a period of live beta testing.
ESPN Sports Bar & Grill shares some similarities with Diner Dash andPlayboy Party. Players take the role of an aspiring sports bar owner. Before opening for business, they must choose which sports franchise they want their establishment to be associated with from a selection of real-world clubs and teams. The basic gameplay revolves around setting up food and drink services such as peanuts, pizza, popcorn, beer and cocktails, and serving customers. The game rewards players with coins and experience for completing customer orders. Successfully completing “chains” of subsequent orders provides a boost in earnings. Customers will become irritated if unserved for too long, or become drunk after too many drinks, which necessitates them being “booted” by the bar owner.
Players can increase the revenue and popularity of their bar by expanding its size, decorating its interior, adding better facilities and airing ESPN programming (various games) on television. A variety of ESPN and team-branded fixtures and decorations – posters, floor decals, and the like – are available for players to use in creating the ultimate fan hangout. There are also a number of unique items that, when found, complete “collections.” Building these and finding all of the items in a collection rewards players with large amounts of coins.
Social aspects of the game include the ability to visit friends’ bars and become MVPs by sitting in special seats (players can also place these in their bars), or working in a friends’ bar to serve food and drink to patrons. Players can also send and receive gifts and share their accomplishments via viral channels. There is also a “trade box” where players can place items they’d like to part with in exchange for those added to their “wish lists.” A detailed leaderboard is built into the game, as well.
ESPN Sports Bar & Grill is monetized through a soft currency called coins and a premium currency, bucks. Coins purchase basic restaurant appliances and decorations, while bucks can purchase almost any item, plus power-ups. The power-ups can be used to boost the reputation of the establishment for a limited period, double tips, speed up serving and other bonuses. Some items cannot be purchased until players have reached a sufficient rank. Bucks are purchased via Facebook Credits.
As the game has just launched, Playdom is focused on ironing out any remaining major bugs. A feature we expect to see develop as various sports leagues’ seasons progress is the Game Predictor mode where players can earn rewards for successfully predicting the outcome of upcoming real life sports events. This is similar to the game predictor integrated in MLB Superstars.
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