SBJ/April 11-17, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

IndyCar moves into Facebook's 'Car Town'

The IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have struck a licensing agreement with California-based Cie Games that will see their cars and drivers featured in the Facebook game “Car Town.”

The licensing deal gives IndyCar its first gaming partner in at least three years and gives Cie Games its second major motorsports partner. It partnered with NASCAR teams and International Speedway Corp. in February.

“Car Town” is played by more than 8 million people on Facebook. The game pays tribute to car collecting hobbyists, giving players the chance to earn or buy points and then use those points to buy cars.

Players can buy motorsports cars ranging from a McLaren F1 to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet Impala to Danica Patrick’s No. 7 Go Daddy-sponsored IndyCar.

Cie Games and IndyCar will share revenue generated from people who buy or earn enough points to buy an IndyCar featured on the game. Cie Games also will promote IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the game, encouraging players to collect those cars and play a pit-stop challenge game at a virtual speedway location known as the Indy 500.

“This gives us a whole slew of new content,” said Justin Choi, president and CEO of Cie Games.

“We can put all these recognizable new [IndyCar] cars into the game and it immediately becomes a new thing that people can collect.”

Facebook last year eclipsed Google in time spent online, and social games like “Car Town” are credited in part with making that happen. Facebook games are projected to generate $1.2 billion in revenue this year.

“No one knows where social gaming is going, but it’s cost effective and has a built-in fan base,” said Casey Kohler, IndyCar’s director of marketing. “We’re really happy to have the chance to tap into that. ‘Car Town’ is not the end of our push into gaming or the end of our social gaming.”

Partnering with “Car Town” also gives the IndyCar Series a way to expand beyond providing news and information on Facebook and offer another way for fans to interact with the sport. For example, the Daytona 500 virtual speedway on the game has had 4.2 million visits and provided 118 million impressions.

“We’ll have millions of players spending minutes and hours engaging in Indy content,” Choi said. “It not only helps them reach new consumers, but engages them.”

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