It’s fall, and that means it’s football season. And while Madden has long been the dominant force in Football video games, he’s getting some new competition this year that’s looking to tap into the same market that has made fantasy football and coaching sims incredibly popular. One of these games, which we covered last week, is called Quick Hit. And today sees the launch of another: gaming studio Challenge Games has just launched GridIron Live, a Facebook-based football coaching sim that features 3D graphics.
For those that aren’t familiar with the genre: GridIron Live and QuickHit have the same high quality graphics as most modern video games, but they don’t feature the twitch-based gameplay you’ll find in Madden. Instead, you act as your team’s coach, picking plays and watching as your digital players fare against your opponent’s play calling. This can be a bit frustrating at times when something out of your hands goes wrong, but that’s true for any coaching job. And it’s a genre that’s become quite popular, though most of the other coaching sims have been far more basic.
The biggest difference between QuickHit and GridIron is that QuickHit requires a downloadable client built in Adobe AIR, whereas GridIron Live is built in Flash, doesn’t require a download, and is a Facebook app. This means that GridIron has a much lower barrier to entry (which is going to be key, as it’s a Facebook game), but the experience is less immersive, as everything is constrained to the Flash pane within Facebook in your browser. In terms of looks, GridIron looks great for a Flash game, sporting 3D graphics that are about on par with the original Playstation (CEO Andrew Busey says it’s the first 3D football game on the web). In contrast, QuickHit uses sprites which look cleaner and more polished, but aren’t in 3D.
Off the field, GridIron will allow gamers to purchase better players, as well as new plays that they can use to expand their playbooks. To buy these, gamers can use the tokens they earn in-game as they complete various tasks, or they can purchase them using real money. QuickHit uses a similar virtual goods model.
One of GridIron’s greatest assets is its integration with Facebook, which will be key in helping it spread virally. Whenever you finish a game you’re given the option to share your greatest in-game accomplishment (for example, your longest pass ever) with your friends.
Challenge Games is the Sequoia-funded studio behind hit games like Duels and Baseball Boss. Now, the studio is looking to bring its tradition of high quality games over to Facebook. Along with GridIron Live, Challenge is planning to release a handful of other games to Facebook in the next 60 days.