McDonald's plans to put more than a plastic figure in its upcoming series of Happy Meals. The next offering includes a whimsical CD-Rom game called "Fairies and Dragons" developed by digital shop Fuel Industries.
Typically McDonald's and other fast food chains partner with kid-friendly entertainment properties to create tie-ins for kid meals. For its first foray into digital Happy Meals, McDonald's went with an unbranded property developed by an ad agency. In fact, there is minimal branding for the restaurant beyond the game's initial "start" icon. Fuel Industries CEO and Executive Creative Director Mike Burns believes McDonald's showed its seal of approval by opting not to slather the experience in McDonald's branding.
The game is targeted to children between seven and nine years old, though it will be accessible to younger children, and may skew even a bit older than the target age of nine. Girls' versions of the game include four fairy characters, each named after flowers, and the CD-Rom comes with a figurine. Boys' versions are dragon-themed, and include a CD-Rom with trading cards. Four dragon characters -- fire, rock, wind, and ice -- are inspired by the earth's elements. A new girl and boy character will be released in the restaurants each week, and players will be able to unlock them on the FairiesAndDragons.com Web site one week after release.
Fairies and Dragons will be introduced in Happy Meals on April 1 in Europe, and spread to 40 countries worldwide within a short period of time. Due to the targeted age group and multiple languages reached, the interface and gameplay is intuitive, and teaches users to play as they go along.
The games take over the desktop, and involve fairies harvesting fruit, flying to avoid dragonflies, and in some cases zapping dragonflies so to stay out of danger. Boys soar in dragon flight, and play games of memory.
Comparisons to Burger King, which released a series of Xbox titles in 2006, are likely to come up. Still, Burns is quick to point out a few differences. One being BK mascot, "The King" was a central figure in all three titles. There was also a charge for the games.
Fuel started development on the Fairies and Dragons game in 2006, and eventually shopped it to McDonalds. While comfortable as a digital ad agency, the shop is interested in moving more into the content business. Fairies and Dragons is just one property the agency has up its sleeve, and more are in the works.
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