December 11, 2006 12:04 AM by Joe Reality
CBS Interactive and Hong Kong-based Artificial Life, Inc. will launch the first avatar-based mobile game tied to a major TV show for The CW’s "America’s Next Top Model," it was announced by Cyriac Roeding, Vice President of Wireless, CBS Interactive. The innovative mobile game, which lets avatars — or virtual characters — live on user’s cell phones, will be available in the U.S. immediately and shortly thereafter in Hong Kong and in many other countries as well.
"We are pleased to be joining forces with Artificial Life, one of the best mobile avatar gaming companies out there, to bring the international phenomenon of Avatars to the U.S.," said Roeding, who also oversees mobile operations for The CW. "’America’s Next Top Model’ is a natural jumping off point for us to introduce this gaming technology given the show’s young and mobile-savvy demographic. This offering furthers our strategy of extending our top brands and content to multiple platforms."
In the U.S., the game will be available to Cingular and Sprint users depending on their cell phone. These consumers can download the game by going to either www.cwtv.com, www.botme.com or by sending a text message to a five-digit number advertised via commercials on The CW network.
As part of the agreement with CBS Interactive, Artificial Life will develop several mobile games over a license period of two years.
"We are very excited about this product launch and the opportunity of working with one of the world’s leading media companies to produce leading edge mobile games based on such a well known and globally popular TV shows as ‘America’s Next Top Model’ on the CW," said Eberhard Schoeneburg, CEO of Artificial Life, Inc. "After the initial launch in the US we will also launch the game in many other countries around the globe."
To play the "America’s Next Top Model" game, players select a virtual representation of his/her favorite and least favorite contestants from the show. The main task is for users to interact with these selected virtual characters — known as avatars — as if they were real participants of the TV show. This means players must foster their avatar’s modeling career through training and various challenges. The selection of the least favorable character allows players to play tricks on her.
The game for the upcoming 2007 season will also have a viral, player-to-player component where users must send their avatar "on vacation" to a friend’s cell phone, thus ceasing to take care of their own character for a while. When sent, the friend will see the character knocking on his/her cell phone screen with a suitcase in hand. If they welcome the avatar in, they will take on the responsibility of taking take care of her for a set amount of time. This send-a-character-on-vacation-to-a-friend option is likely to serve as a teaser to bring new players into the game.
In the U.S., the "America’s Next Top Model" mobile Avatar game will be available for an initial price of $5.99 to download the game. The game will be compatible with most mobile phones though some features of the game, storylines and general functionality will vary among wireless devices.