Late last week, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., Paramount Pictures, and Zynga announced that the lovable Kung Fu Panda will be making an in-game integration appearance in Zynga’s popular CityVille game. The integration will feature a new in-game item and quest for players, ultimately promoting the upcoming opening of Kung Fu Panda 2, which premiers this coming Thursday, May 26th. And while in-game integrations are nothing new for Zynga (Rango – FrontierVille, Megamind, et al.) the Kung Fu Panda integration marks the first in-game appearance of it’s type in Facebook’s largest and most popular application.
“Nearly a third of all Kung Fu Panda fans on Facebook have also played CityVille, so the integration is a natural fit and something we think our players will love,” said Manny Anekal, Global Director of Brand Advertising at Zynga in a statement. “It’s important that we collaborate with innovative brands like DreamWorks Animation that resonate with and are meaningful to our players and enhance their game play.”
Kicking off last Friday, more than 88 million monthly CityVille players now have the option available to drop a Kung Fu Panda 2 inspired drive-in movie theatre in their beloved Facebook based virtual city. Upon placement of the aforementioned drive-in cinema, players will receive one of five collectable pieces. Once users have collected all five of the kung fu inspired pieces, Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey, an exclusive Po the Panda statue will be unlocked, and is available as a quest completion reward. By doubling the steps needed to achieve the exclusive Panda can be seen as a move from Zynga as a method of further interaction between players and the brand, something both DreamWorks and Paramount are sure to appreciate.
“Our exclusive integration of Kung Fu Panda 2 in Zynga’s CityVille gives millions of players a fun and deeply interactive way of connecting with Po and the Furious Five,” said Jason Alex, Head of Online Marketing at DreamWorks Animation in a statment. “Po journeys on a memorable kung fu quest in the movie and through this online challenge we’re able to reward fans for further engaging with the characters they love.”
Again, as this isn’t a first for Zynga, the Kung Fu Panda 2 in-game integration does have a significant impact on the industry, and is noteworthy. As we’ve seen over the course of time, that “other” form of advertising within video games has gone over like a led balloon. Perhaps is just the delivery method that needed a change? Perhaps it’s the wildly different type of gamer that plays Zynga titles vs. die-hard Xbox 360 Halo players? Either way, Zynga’s found a magic to balance the expectations of both the suits and the market at large. Chances are, DreamWorks has already seen a respectable ROI, as the Kung Fu Panda 2 integration serves as a prime example of the studio’s faith in what Zynga can deliver. And while, for now, this appears to be a one way street, how long can it be until we see a Zynga integration into a DreamWorks picture?