By Randy Nelson From Inside Social Games
Literally casting players as budding Hollywood actors, The A-List is the follow-up title to FameTown from Diversion, Inc. Just after launching earlier this month, the developer announced securing an undisclosed sum of series B funding, plus a $1 million advertising deal with Sony Pictures.
The core gameplay of The A-List is familiar: Players customize their own slice of the game world (in this case their “block”) with businesses and decorations, clicking on the former and expending energy to receive cash and experience points as a timer resets until they’re available for collection again. Energy, as in other games of this type, replenished over time or when players level up. Everything has a Hollywood movie theme, however, which carries over into the various quests that can be completed in order to earn more cash, experience and fame.
The game world is comprised of the player’s home block in addition to several others, including “FameTown and Highland,” Beverly Hills’ famous shopping destination, Rodeo drive, and a collection of movie sets. At each of these locations, players take part in multi-step quests such as attending premieres, taking acting lessons, rehearsing lines, or filming. Completing quests rewards players with cash, fame and experience points along with items such as scripts and fan letters, which comprise collections that can be exchanged for more money/fame and special items.
Once all of the quests within a given movie set are completed, players are rewarded with their completed film, which can be screened at cinemas in their friends’ blocks for more fame. Other social elements include bragging about items found and quests completed via viral channels such as Walls and visiting friends’ blocks in order to collect cash for bonus income.
The A-List is being monetized through the direct purchase of “exclusive” items using Facebook Credits. Credits can also be spent to purchase more of the game’s soft currency, cash, which can buy a good amount of regular items from the game’s shop, like businesses, decorations, landscaping, “bling” and energy. The Fame can only be earned through in-game actions.
Aside from the obvious branding implications in the Sony Pictures advertising deal (see ETA below), we observe that the developer has an active content release schedule detailed on its Wall. Some of the new items already launched allow for more customization of blocks, which feeds into a sub-form on the game’s discussion Page where players show off what they’ve created.
ETA: Diversion, Inc. CEO Dayvid Iannaci tells ISG his company has “a very robust content schedule allowing for weekly and sometimes even daily publishing of new maps, movies, quests and items.” The company’s Sony Pictures deal currently includes a series of collectible items from The Smurfs now live in the game. In the long run, Iannaci foresees “vast improvements to the customization area and even perhaps the ability for higher level players to create their own user-generated content,” and potentially even “mobile versions of the game that will actually connect to social networks and keep track of user’s progress and actions, regardless of which client they happen to be using at the time.”
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