EA’s Dragon Age Legends Facebook game unlocks features on console version

Taking a leading console brand into social games, Electronic Arts formally launched its Dragon Age Legends online game on Facebook. The hook for the game is that it allows players to unlock features in the Dragon Age II console or PC versions.

The release shows that EA, one of the world’s largest game makers, is getting serious about coordinating the release of its games on the console, PC, Facebook and other platforms as it adapts to a world where social and mobile platforms will soon be as important as the traditional platforms, if they aren’t already.

In the past, console game companies released games on mobile or social platforms much later than the traditional platforms, and there were often no ties between the games. But Dragon Age Legends has social glue, or “companion gaming” as Ubisoft calls it. That is, players are motivated to play the Facebook version of the fantasy role-playing game to get five exclusive items in Dragon Age II.

Dragon Age II is the sequel to the award-winning Dragon Age Origins game that debuted in late 2009 from EA’s BioWare studio. Dragon Age II, one of EA’s major releases for the year, debuted on March 8 and has an average Metacritic (an aggregator of review scores) score of 80 out of 100. That’s not bad, but the game could use a marketing boost through exposure to Facebook’s 600 million users.

The Dragon Age Legends app was co-created by BioWare and EA’s Play4Free studio, EA2D. Mark Spenner, general manager of EA2D, said the goal was to bring the AAA quality game play of BioWare to the social space, with role-playing combat that fits the limited game medium of Facebook. Players can play the Facebook version cooperatively, recruiting friends and embarking on a “battle-rich” epic journey with lots of quests. The game can also be played on the web.