Playboy Forming New Video Gaming Label

Aug 26, 2010 2:00 PM PST
CHICAGO – Playboy Enterprises is reportedly forming a new video game label set to debut by the end of the year to bolster the company’s mainstream appeal.

According to paidContent, Playboy’s managing director for new digital ventures, Paul H. Lee said the company has already partnered with German online game company, Bigpoint Games to help create and distribute games on Playboy.com.

No name has been given to the new venture but the inaugural game is Bigpoint’s Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) urban crime fantasy, "Poisonville," that has just been released from beta testing.

The games will target Playboy’s core 18-35-year-old male demographic.

Lee said that while gaming might seem a little outside Playboy’s editorial and TV strengths, the company’s found a lot of overlap between gaming sites and Playboy.com visitors.

“One of our core competencies involves using our brand to present quality content,” Lee said. “Gaming is a growing, mainstream area. And part of our plan is to extend Playboy’s brand into the mainstream.” The recent unveiling of the safe-for-work site TheSmokingJacket, is in keeping with that motive.”

No details as to the amount of staff nor what Playboy’s financial commitment is to online gaming but Lee did say the backing is “significant.”

The report said that the game pages will initially be ad-free to attract users but paid ads are planned. The iconic Playboy bunny logo will also show up from time to time, but Lee said that any overt signs of branding will be played down.

Poisonville has a dedicated Playboy.com channel and is described as an action-oriented, multi-player online game involving a fictional U.S. city “where crime and corruption rule the streets.”

Players must complete a series of missions in order to counteract corruption, regain respect and rebuild their reputations. The one slight difference here, according to Playboy, is that players will be encountering “beautiful, Playboy-caliber women.”

“We’re excited to expand our global partnership with Playboy and introduce Poisonville to U.S. gamers,” said Heiko Hubertz, founder and CEO, Bigpoint. “Launching this new game through Playboy.com will allow us to directly tap into our ideal gaming audience – avid, online men between the ages of 18-35. We look forward to engaging gamers in new and exciting ways through Playboy’s network of high-traffic websites.”

Playboy also expects to add games to Facebook and other social networking sites in the future.

According to the report, Lee wouldn’t comment on talks with other game developers but said the company is actively looking for partners.

“We’re looking for quality developers and the time I spent looking at Bigpoint showed me that they fit the bill for what we needed to get started,” Lee said.

“Previously, Playboy’s gaming interests included a few licensing deals and some editorial in the form of gaming reviews. But there was no clear, over-arching strategy in place. With Bigpoint, we’ve established a clear path in terms of where we want to go,” Lee said.

Playboy doesn’t have an equity arrangement with Bigpoint, but other partnerships could include some investment along with a working contract, Lee said.

“At this point, we haven’t made any decisions and we’ll see how these first steps go. We could possibly do some investing down the road, depending on what we find and what our needs are.”

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