Disney Social Games, in conjunction with developer Playdom, will launch the first Facebook game with a direct tie-in to one of The Walt Disney Company’s theme parks this April. Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers was developed in conjunction with theme park scientists and zoologists to bring authentic animals, plants and birds into the virtual world. The new social game will also emphasize the importance of conservation.
The game blends two popular genres into a unique experience. There’s a hidden object game that features photorealistic art and a large assortment of animals for players to find. The game also includes a simulation mode where players can build their own nature preserve. Gameplay is divided evenly between these two genres. The experience is connected with players unlocking new animals, plants and trees for the nature reserve by unlocking them in the hidden object game.
Thousands of photos of the Disney Animal Kingdom park were taken by the developer and were used to created themes and objects for the game. Two of the game’s locations will be particularly familiar to Disney fans, as Harambe and Anandapur draw inspiration directly from the Animal Kingdom theme park. While the Tree of Life from the park will be the starting point for every nature preserve, the gameplay doesn’t have players building a Disney park. Rather, they’re creating a unique preserve to house and protect hundreds of animals, plants and birds from around the globe.
The game’s eco-friendly storyline has Facebook players joining the Global Wildlife Research team and traveling the world on expeditions. The game will launch with animals and plants from six major regions like the Rocky Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest and the Australian Outback.
Eric Todd, vice president of product and creative director, Animal Kingdom Explorers - had this to say:
"Players will work with friends to collect the necessary materials to grow their habitat. The hidden object portion of the game offers online leaderboards for players to compete and compare scores in a social setting.”
Playdom worked with Disney scientists to produce environmentally correct gameplay. Players will be rewarded for placing giraffes with the correct trees within their preserves, for example. There will also be no popcorn or vending areas and no cages for the animals. In addition, the game will feature thousands of animal facts that will be incorporated into the game.
The game will be featured in the Disney Animal Kingdom between April 13 and 14 as part of the park’s Earth Day celebration. Visitors will be able to play the online game at the park as part of a bigger integration among the Disney Nature studio team, Disney Social Games and Disney Parks.
There will also be regular cross-promotions between the virtual world and the theme park. There’s an in-game newspaper that allows the game developer to announce things relevant to the park and events as they come up, including the Earth Day celebration. Players will also be able to find links to the theme park’s Web site.
"Once they’ve been to park players recognize how things tie in from our game. We’ll continue to update the game every week or two with new locations. These updates will include five or six different hidden object gameplay scenes and new items based on that location for the nature preserve.” said Todd.
Playdom’s Garden of Time was Facebook's most popular game in 2011. This marks the first foray of expanding the hidden object style of gameplay into a Disney-themed experience. Disney Animal Kingdom Adventures is also the first animal-themed hidden object game, which Todd believes will appeal to many of Facebook’s 750 million users.
"Hidden object games have been popular in the traditional games space for a long time. As Facebook games continue to evolve and mature, things that were popular only on consoles and portable devices before now are gaining popularity on Facebook.” said Todd.
Disney Animal Kingdom Adventures is currently in closed BETA.