Starz to Launch 'Camelot' Social Game on Facebook

'Camelot: The Game'

It is the second such game for the company following the January launch of "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena."

NEW YORK -- Starz Digital Media is rolling out its second social media game tied to an original series. After Spartacus: Gods of the Arena became one of the first major TV properties to add a game in January, Camelot is now getting the social game treatment from the digital and on-demand licensing arm of premium TV provider Starz.

The beta launch of the game, which is simply called Camelot: The Game, on Facebook is set for later in the day Friday. The consumer launch is expected for the coming weeks. People who register on Facebook and enter the password "Merlin" will be eligible to play the beta version.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena surpassed 1 million monthly users last month, according to "It has done well, and we have been pleased with the results," Marc DeBevoise, senior vp digital media, business development and strategy at Starz Media, said without sharing financial or other details.

Led by Zynga, which owns such franchises as Farmville and Mafia Wars, social games have been a hot area of the entertainment industry.

Starz sees the game as a way to further engage existing fans of Camelot, reach new ones and make money via the sale of virtual goods, such as building materials, soldiers and certain types of attacks, inside the game. Eventually, the company plans to add, as it recently did for the Spartacus game, ads provided via Facebook.

The company didn't detail the size of its investment or a target for monthly or daily players. But DeBevoise said the goal is to make games profitable and immerse existing and new fans of the show during its run and beyond to keep them engaged.

"We felt Camelot suits a couple of game genres out there, and none of the properties out there in this space were branded," he said. "The action, adventure and challenge of this game is unmatched in the marketplace today and is a beautiful complement and extension of the Starz original series."

The free Camelot game combines resource management and battle/combat elements as players act as lords of their own hamlet and embark on quests that the company said will "borrow liberally" from series plot points. Players decide how to get the most from their hamlet's natural resources, including gold, ore, and wood, which they can use to upgrade their hamlet or equip their army.

Unlike Gods of the Arena, where players didn't control battle scenes, the Camelot game allows players to have a high degree of control over the movement and attacks of their soldiers. Players can purchase Facebook credits to accelerate their progress.

 As with other games on social networks, players can recruit friends and pool different types of assigned special traits by adding friends to their council table – or dropping them.

Special events and game content tied to the final episodes of the 10-episode Camelot will be rolled out in the coming weeks. The show premiered on April 1 and recently went on a two-week hiatus. Camelot's latest new episode on Friday is the seventh.

Starz said it wanted to get the game right and not rush it. Plus, there could be benefits from a late social media marketing push late in the series, said DeBevoise. He said the global game also becomes available well ahead of the show's global rollout, which starts with Canada in September.

Starz Digital Media again partnered with social media game publisher 6waves, which also worked on Gods of the Arena, to launch the social game. 6waves has more than 55 million monthly active users.

The game was co-developed and co-published with Sarbakan and Large Animal Games in association with international distributor GK-tv.

Twitter: @georgszalai