The game blurs the line between real-world shopping and fashion games since CrowdStar has formed alliances with existing high-end fashion brands. In the title, users can buy virtual outfits and accessories that are based on actual fashion designs including current seasonal ware.
The free-to-play app turns fashion discovery into a game, said Jeff Tseng, the chief executive of San Francisco-based CrowdStar, in an interview with GamesBeat. Once a player creates their own favorite virtual style, they can get feedback from friends, who vote on it. The highest-rated creations are the winners, and players can actually win real-world merchandise as a result. Players who like their virtual creations will be able to buy them in the real world through seamless links to e-commerce sites. You can also pin your favorite discoveries to Pinterest.
“This is possible in part because the iPad has become a real tool for shopping,” Tseng said. “If you fall in love with your virtual items, you may buy them in the real world.”
The 60 participating brands include Rebecca Minkoff, Joie, Halston Heritage, Dannijo, Torn by Ronny Kobo, Cut25 by Yigal Azrouel, Cynthia Rowley, Sigerson Morrison, Hudson, and Botkier. In the game, you can style your virtual mannequin from head-to-toe in a variety of themed challenges, like creating the best outfit for a certain kind of party. Players can choose from more than 1,000 unique pieces of clothing.
If your outfit is voted the most popular, you have a chance to win merchandise in the real world. Fashion designer Rachel Zoe will be one of a number of style ambassadors who judges, writes style tips, and provides Covet players with expert fashion advice.
“Covet Fashion gives you access to a massive closet — full of this season’s best fashion,” Zoe said in a statement. “Whether you’re shopping for your avatar or yourself, the styling aspect appeals to anyone that is passionate about fashion.”
The CrowdStar studio, headed by female game designer Blair Hamilton, has been carving out a name for itself in games for girls and young women. CrowdStar launched its It Girl app in March 2011, followed by its Top Girl app in May 2011. Then it followed with its Social Girl app in the fall of 2011. Top Stylist debuted in August 2012.
Tseng said that Covet Fashion will likely appeal to the same crowd, but it may also reach an older audience of women, too.
“It’s the only mobile experience that combines the three tenets of fashion: shopping, styling, and being seen,” Tseng said. “The response in testing has been really good. We know that women don’t yet have the perfect entertainment experience yet. The timing for this could be perfect.”
Part of the reason is that fashion companies spend a ton on advertising, but those ads aren’t always engaging. With Covet Fashion, the brands know that players will be very engaged.
CrowdStar has raised $42.25 million to date from backers including Time Warner and Intel, including a $12 million round last month. It has had more than 250 million game downloads and 80 employees. Tseng said, “I’m actually learning a lot about fashion, I tell ya.”