Spark City virtual world has room for brands to play

A new multiplayer online franchise targeting tween girls is looking for sponsorship and branded content to flesh out its universe, and has just brokered a deal with Jakks Pacific to create an inworld gaming and retail presence for its Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker.

Ottawa-based interactive agency Fuel Industries has just launched a new online virtual world aimed at tween girls. Offering a futuristic virtual world where girl gamers can hang together and play, Spark City was built in-house by the studio’s licensed properties division and was launched recently to the industry at the Kidscreen Summit in New York.

The virtual world is tied to Fuel’s All Girl Star Squad property, a social gaming portal from which Spark City was born, focusing on the adventures of three video game superstars and their intergalactic friends as they foil a sinister fire queen’s plant to dominate Earth. The network currently has a million gameplays, and is also available through a new iPhone app, further extending the gameplay experience while serving as a mobile banner driving users back to the site. For its part, 80% of Spark City users return for multiple plays, with half a million of them returning nine times or more, at half an hour engagement time per visit on average.

As part of its plans to make the property a 360 experience, from television to retail, Fuel Industries is actively pursuing both marketing partnerships to produce branded content and sponsorship arrangements with a number of major companies in Canada, and has recently signed its first brand integration with US-based toy company Jakks Pacific, to provide an in-world store and branded game by building an environment tied to their toy of the year, the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker.

Operating in an open beta over the past few weeks, Spark City registered an average 29 minutes engagement time with young users.

Features that will continue to roll out over the next few months, include safety enhancement as well as socialization elements that allow girls decorate and invite virtual friends over to their virtual apartments to play dress-up games.