First it was a song, state of mind and overpriced burger joint. Now Jimmy Buffett’s "Margaritaville" will be a free-to-play social game on Facebook, iPhone and iPad in the form of Margaritaville Online, coming this fall from publisher THQ. Music will be a major part of the experience, as beach bar owners can form bands, host parties and enjoy classic tunes by Buffett as they soak up virtual seaside breezes.
Letting players build a bar, dodge pirates and go on adventures in a colorful, cartoonish 3D tropical world based on singer Jimmy Buffett’s books and songs, the title borrows equally from Café World and Treasure Isle. As with other social games, users will play mini-games and participate in activities in hopes of amassing virtual currency, which can be spent on in-game items or upgrades. In a recent interview with USA Today, the legendary beach bum also revealed hopes that in-game performance will be rewarded with free meals at Margaritaville cafés. "If you buy virtual cheeseburgers and margaritas to send to friends, that should earn you a real burger or beer at a restaurant," he said.
Developed by Top Bar creator Exploding Barrel Games, Margaritaville Online will also feature familiar characters and locales from Buffett’s signature stories and tunes. Settings include Joe Merchant’s Trading Post and Tony’s Boasts and Planes, the latter home to Captain Tony of "Last Mango in Paris" fame. "The Margaritaville laidback state of mind is inherently social," said Buffett in a public statement. "With Margaritaville Online, fans across the globe can party together any time and any place."
Given social gaming’s seemingly unstoppable growth spurt (CityVille clocked 100 million players in just 43 days) and Buffett’s sizable "Parrothead" following, the title may provide countless staycationers with access to virtual happy hours 24/7. Whether or not its world of frozen concoctions and rum-tinged camaraderie takes, though, it’s hardly a surprising pairing. With managing tropical isles, running restaurants and hosting killer parties or public attractions recurring themes behind nearly half the games on Facebook already, it may not be as Curacao-drenched an idea as you’d initially suspect.