Market Snapshot

Launch of Car Town Gives Gearheads a Facebook App of Their Own

Car Town is the latest Facebook application where users can collect and customize their rides, race against friends or showcase their vehicles.

Following in the footsteps of the popular Facebook social games, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, is the release of Car Town, created by Cie Games that aims to satisfy the user’s passion for automobiles while helping automakers and specialty-equipment manufacturers to reach a new audience via social media and online advertising. Cie Games is also the creator of another automobile game called Nitto 1320 Legends.

In Car Town, players use virtual currency to purchase, customize and collect hundreds of vehicles, including classic cars, ’60s musclecars, trucks, luxury and exotic vehicles, and store them in their customizable virtual garages, which serve as their home base. Owners can take road trips, race against their friends and perform tasks, such as delivering pizzas or servicing their friends’ cars, which earns them the points they need to purchase additional cars or car-related products and services. For instance, players can personalize their vehicles by altering their cars' wheels, tires, chassis, body kits, paint scheme and graphics.

The game includes banners featuring specialty-equipment manufacturers, such as HRE, which players can hang in their garage, and hundreds of custom template designs for their rides from companies such as K&N. Players can even design and upload their own graphics schemes. SEMA also has decided to get in on the action by launching a template for Racers Against Street Racing.

Automakers earn a licensing fee each time a player buys one of their virtual cars using cash or points. Cie Games also has partnered with several businesses where players can accumulate points and earn rewards by signing up for offers from companies such as Netflix. Honda will innovatively utilize the game to introduce a custom CR-Z sport hybrid and advertise via a virtual billboard and custom CR-Z showroom before the car is actually available to the public.

Other Car Town licensing partners include DeLorean, Dodge, Fisker, Ford, General Motors, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lotus, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Opel, Ram Truck, Scion, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. According to Justin Choi, president and CEO of Cie Games, Car Town is the first major Facebook game to integrate real-world automotive brands into social gaming play. And, with the popularity of Facebook (which now numbers 500 million global users), Car Town’s reach extends beyond the typical gearhead.

“The great thing about Car Town is that it opens up our industry and its products to a potential pool of customers who don’t know anything about cars or specialty equipment,” added Tom Myroniak, SEMA vice president of marketing and member services. “If Car Town can expose our industry to even half the audience that FarmVille draws, it would be a huge success.”