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Friskies' GamesforCats.com Offers Branded Experience for Cats (and Owners)

  |  March 20, 2013   |  Comments

The site has seven free game apps with three million downloads to date.

Cat food brand Friskies is targeting owners via their pets with a series of tablet experiences created especially for cats.

The latest, Happy Wings, is a game available on its Games for Cats website.

Happy Wings includes a garden full of critters that fly across the screen to attract the cat's attention. When the cat captures a certain number, the game speeds up and adds multiple creatures simultaneously, Friskies says.

GamesforCats.com launched in May 2011. It now has a total of seven games, which are available for free download on iOS devices. Some are also available for Android devices or to play in a browser.

"We really understand and celebrate cats' natural curiosity and natural desire to play. We know that's something very resonant for owners - they like to see the imaginations of their cats manifested in different ways," says Alison Coburn, assistant brand manager for Friskies. "As we started to see the surge of technology and play and a couple of early videos on YouTube [of cats swatting] after the first iPad launched, it dawned on us that it could be great synergy for what our brand celebrates and cats' natural behavior."

Coburn says Friskies' first iPad game, Cat Fishing, remains its most successful cat app to date with about 800,000 downloads. Friskies has seen a total of about three million downloads for all games.

"Everything from the visuals to leveraging natural cat behavior [made the games] really successful and we saw tremendous response from consumers who then submitted videos back onto our YouTube channel," Coburn says.

The games have inspired nearly 100 owner-submitted videos of cats playing these games in Friskies' YouTube channel.

What's more, GamesforCats.com features a You vs. Cat World-Wide Leaderboard that tallies wins in what Friskies calls its first interspecies game. You vs. Cat, which, as the name implies, pits cat owners against their pets.

"We know owners get great joy in watching their cats, but also wanted the owners to be able to play against their cats," Coburn says.

The cats are the clear leaders with 22.3 million wins to the humans' 16 million.

As for owners worried about claws on their expensive tablets, GamesforCats.com says, "We've found that the alkali-aluminosilicate glass screen on the iPad stands up to our cat's claws with no problems, but please be aware that a cat's sharp claws could damage add-on plastic film 'screen protectors.'"

In addition to its own games, Friskies is hosting the first-ever GamesforCats.com Hackathon on March 23 and 24 in Venice, California. Up to 75 tech and creative game programmers will work in teams of up to five to create the next game in the Games for Cats portfolio. Three prizes will be awarded. Additionally, the beta version of the grand prize winner's game could potentially be developed further.

"We do believe we've created the best games for cats out there and also know there's so much energy and innovation in the app development space, so we want to open it up to experts and invite them to one-up us in terms of what they could create in a 48-hour period," Coburn says.

Friskies is also the brand behind Will Kitty Play With It? a series of YouTube videos with a combined 2.5 million views. Each video in the self-proclaimed game show for cats presents a cat with an object like a plastic cup or an empty toilet paper roll. Cameras roll as an announcer waits to see if the cat will play with it.

"This comes from a similar insight that cats can turn anything into an object of play," Coburn says.


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Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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