Social gaming firm Zynga has blossomed into a billion-dollar company thanks to the popularity of games like CityVille, FarmVille, and Café World. So when global industrial behemoth Siemens decided to launch its own online social game today called PlantVille—which includes a feature called the PlantVille Café—one couldn't help but wonder whether Siemens was taking its cues from Zynga.
"It's coincidental, at best," says Tom Varney, who helped design the game for Siemens. "PlantVille is based on real-world experience." But at least one rep for the company explicitly acknowledged that the game was trying to capitalize on the popularity of social games like FarmVille and even made the mistake of saying Siemens invented FarmVille—though the rep immediately caught the slip. PlantVille. Siemens invented PlantVille.
Regardless of where the inspiration originated from, Siemens is promoting PlantVille as an innovative gaming platform designed to showcase Siemens' technologies and brand. When players first join the service (Siemens' has a unique registration process—you can't login using Facebook), they'll gain access to three key components of PlantVille: the PlantVille game, an online simulator allowing users to manage a bottling, vitamin, or manufacturing plant; the PlantVille Café, where Siemens can engages with players to discuss game solutions; and the PlantVille Puzzler, where users can test their knowledge with brain teasers.
Siemens hopes the game will not only be fun and educational but will drive awareness for the the company's brand. In the PlantVille game, for example, players will work to nurse a plant back to health "by learning about and applying industrial and infrastructure products and solutions from Siemens," according to a company statement.
"We think this will be a fun way for people to learn about what it means to operate a manufacturing plant, and at the same time, learn about what Siemens does here in the US," says Daryl Dulaney, CEO of Siemens Industry. "When you play the game and meet the challanges the game presents, there are helpful links and hints to help you make a decision on how to improve the operation at your plant. Many of those links will take you to Siemens' product websites." Where the fun continues into oblivion.
Dulaney imagines the game will help engage with high school and college students, who might be considering a career in manufacturing, but also with the company's customers or potential customers who work in the industry and utilize products that Siemens offers.
"It's a very realistic game—it's really an awesome game," Dulaney says. "There are a lot of engineers and other people who enjoy this type of genre."
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