March 24--The epic power struggle between the Starks and the Lannisters on "Game of Thrones" has come to Facebook.
A fast-growing local Boston company is revolutionizing social media games by integrating a live strategy game with the widely popular medieval fantasy drama, and it's generating a lot of PAX East buzz.
Released just three weeks ago on Facebook, "Game of Thrones Ascent" already has 300,000 players in a unique, constantly updated game that allows players to evolve with the characters through new content added after each new episode airs. And with the premiere of the show's third season a week from today, the number of players is expected to explode among the 12 million viewers the HBO show attracts.
Southboro resident Jon Radoff, the founder of Disruptor Beam, has been a successful tech and game company entrepreneur. He convinced series creator and author George R.R. Martin and HBO to do a different kind of Facebook game, and one that was faithful to the spirit of the books.
"Most social media games have most been about mindless clicking," Radoff said. "We wanted to create a thinking person's Facebook game where you pursue power, create allies, fight enemies and face all kinds of moral choices."
Radoff began working on the idea for the game and tying it live into the show even before the popular series began airing three years ago.
"HBO is very excited about the game," said Will Price, the network's associate director of product development. "It's going to a great driver of fans to our show and will keep them engaged between episodes."
Disruptor Beam has a dozen employees plus contracted writers to produce content and it put out a flyer at PAX East with six more job openings.
"Disruptor Beam is growing like crazy and has the potential to explode into a major gaming company with hundreds of employees," said Monty Sharma, managing director of the Mass. Digital Games Institute, who added that he is already addicted to the game. "They've created a game that makes you struggle between your desire to triumph and your sense of morality. Part of me doesn't want my ruthless character to win."
The free-to-play "Game of Thrones Ascent" makes money by getting players to pay for things like better armaments through micro-transactions.
"The online game business is a live business," said Radoff, who has developed and built companies such as Novalink and ePrice, which he grew into 300 employees and took public in 2000. "Creating more content every day is how you make money and grow."
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