The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets


Top Sports Athletes as Gaming Brand Ambassadors

By Sebastian Sujka

Australian Olympic swimming icon, Ian Thorpe, has joined former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh and Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma as an official brand ambassador for a new sports social network, which has recently launched worldwide.

PlayUp is a mobile social network to enable sport fans to follow their choice of 30,000 live games around the world for sports such as Premier League, Cricket, NFL, NBA, US College sports and a large variety of Football leagues. All this while being able to discuss the action with other fans for free on their mobile devices.

Speaking from Melbourne where he is completing for the first time in six years Thorpe said he was excited about his role as an ambassador with PlayUp and would become an active user of the app where he can provide his thoughts on his preparation direct to fans. “I am passionate about the role of technology in sport and PlayUp offers the chance for me to connect with fans during my training as well as having the opportunity to follow my favourite sports – such as Premier League Football and tennis – while in transit, “ Thorpe said.

Survey: 94% are up for second screen entertainment
It is this ability for PlayUp to enhance his own viewing experience that has Thorpe excited. A recent study by Yahoo Mobile and Razorfish found that 94% of the 2,000 surveyed engaged in some form of mobile communication while watching TV, such as exchanging email, sending IMs, texting, talking or social networking.

Opportunity for direct interaction
PlayUp Founder and CEO George Tomeski said: “What’s unique for Ian Thorpe is that PlayUp allows swimming fans the chance to have direct interaction with him as he prepares for the 2012 Olympics. “He’ll be able to create a dedicated discussion area around a live sports event of his choice allowing fans to message and interact with him. We hope to provide unprecedented access for his fans using this real-time messaging feature.”

In 2010 PlayUp games were distributed throughout more than 20 countries across the UK and Europe, India and the sub-continent, Asia and Africa. PlayUp will grow to 50,000 live games on the platform by June 2012. PlayUp was founded by Australians Luke Bunbury and George Tomeski in 2007.

Nicolas Anelka signs next big contract in China
Another top athlete to endorse games is French international Nicolas Anelka. After his move from Chelsea Football club to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua Liansheng Football Club. The9, an online game developer and operator in China, has announced that it has entered into an endorsement agreement with Nicolas Anelka, for worldwide endorsement and promotion of Firefall, a highly-anticipated team-based shooter game developed by Red 5 Studios, one of The9′s subsidiaries.

Under the agreement, Anelka will participate in various promotion and endorsement initiatives for promoting Firefall. Anelka has also granted The9 some certain other rights relating to the promotion activities, including the use of Anelka’s name, voice and likeness. The worldwide endorsement agreement is for a term of one year. In consideration for the endorsement services provided by Anelka, The9 agrees to pay Anelka a sum of EUR2.7 million.

Cooperation Anelka and Shenhua Football Club
The9 has also entered into a cooperative promotion agreement with Shanghai Shenhua Liansheng Football Club Co., Ltd. (“Shenhua”) for endorsing and promoting Firefall for a term of two years. Shenhua is a long-established leading soccer team in the Chinese Super League, the highest tier of professional soccer association in China. Under the agreement, Shenhua players will wear jerseys bearing the name and logo of Firefall in all domestic and international soccer games and also make appearances at press conferences and product promotion and sales initiatives for Firefall and participate in other activities for promoting Firefall. Shenhua will also reserve advertisement space for Firefall at its host auditorium. The9 will pay Shenhua RMB32 million for the promotion services.
Overlap of gamers and soccer fans

Chris Shen, The9′s VP of Marketing, commented, “A big portion of Firefall gamers are also soccer fans, most of whom are male, passionate about sports, and actively followers of entertainment stories of sport stars. We are going to implement the cross-marketing campaigns throughout the year that leverage the popularity of Anelka and Shenhua to enhance the brand awareness of Firefall among the target audiences in both China and the global market. We have successfully promoted our online games via cross-marketing campaigns in the past years and we believe this would be a very innovative and effective way to enhance the Firefall brand and attract more gamers.”

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