NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Tilling a fertile new field where online game lovers can feel driven to Play for Good ™, Sojo Studios today announced the preview launch of WeTopia (http://apps.facebook.com/wetopia), a community-building game where players develop a better world for children – both on Facebook and in the real world. The first company to combine social games with nonprofit beneficiaries on an ongoing basis, Sojo Studios has concurrently forged long-term, exclusive partnerships with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
"We believe in collaborative play as a force for social good," said Lincoln Brown, founder and CEO of Sojo Studios. "Players can have fun with friends and family in-game, experience the thrill of supporting projects they choose that help people around the world, and track the progress of these projects on a day-to-day basis. This, combined with the popularity and reach of 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' makes a powerful combination."
Previewing as a fully playable, continually evolving Facebook game, WeTopia is elevated by visually engaging 3D art and intuitive design which organically puts causes at the heart of the experience - giving consumers a whole new reason to play. As players build and grow their WeTopia villages and help their neighbors, they earn currency called "Joy" which they can apply toward real-world projects: whether food, healthcare, education or other programs assisting children, both in the U.S. and other nations. Players can choose specific beneficiaries to receive their Joy and track their contributions through pictures, videos and in-game messages. WeTopia is free to play - players can also buy Facebook credits to spend in-game - but everyone can have a real-world impact simply by earning and spending Joy through game play.
During WeTopia's private beta stage, actual projects have already begun, including construction of a school in Haiti, distribution of meals and medicine to children in that country, and support of a summer literacy program in the Appalachia region of Kentucky. Beginning today, players will be able to support their choice of projects helping children across the U.S. and Haiti. Expansion plans will allow the game's most dedicated players to vote on which regions and countries will be added as beneficiaries. Among its initial nonprofit partners are Save the Children, buildOn and Children's Health Fund.
"Save the Children is thrilled to be part of Sojo Studios' innovative approach to social gaming," said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children. "WeTopia will help build awareness about important social issues and give people a fun way to make a lasting difference for children in need. Thanks to Sojo, millions of people can become partners in the work we do each day."
Ellen DeGeneres has signed on to provide entertainment marketing support through "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," helping to spread WeTopia's message of joy to her fans. DeGeneres will also provide creative input into the design of future games, as well as marketing support for Sojo Studios' slate of games. "I am so proud to be involved with WeTopia," said DeGeneres. "You know when you hear about an idea and you instantly fall in love with it? That's how I felt when I heard about WeTopia spreading joy to people around the world. It's kinda the same way I felt about Pajama Jeans, only more so."
A hybrid model allows Sojo Studios to continually generate revenue, both through advertisers and sponsors as well as players' purchases of social goods in-game, with a mandate to donate 50% of the net profits (never less than 20% revenue) to its charity beneficiaries. As new games are created, additional causes and associated nonprofit organizations from around the world will be considered.
Sojo Studios is led by Lincoln Brown, an entrepreneur who has been deeply involved with cause-related initiatives throughout his life, most recently in Haiti, which inspired him to create an entertainment platform combining play and philanthropy. His vision for WeTopia and the company's other games is not only to give people a powerful and fun way to give back, but to allow them to see where the money is actually going and to keep track of its real-world impact. Sojo Studios is backed by an advisory team of industry thought leaders including Esther Dyson, a former journalist, respected technology analyst and angel investor, and Dave Morin, CEO & co-founder of Path and co-inventor of the Facebook Platform, among other advisors.
"What attracted me to Sojo Studios is that it's more than a money transfer system supporting good works. It lets players understand the real-world impact of funds they donate through their game activity – and the real-world problems they address," explained Dyson. "Over time, that will lead to greater accountability for NGOs and more productive allocation of funds, as well as more consciousness of the real world outside of games."
Morin offered, "Sojo Studios is at the forefront of combining two of the most powerful social experiences on the Facebook Platform - games and causes. WeTopia empowers players to have fun with friends while also supporting projects improving people's lives in the real world. Best of all, players get to see direct results with real photos and videos from the field. Social games that do tangible real-world good - that's a really exciting and potentially groundbreaking use of the Facebook Platform."
About Sojo Studios
Based in New York, Los Angeles and Lexington, Kentucky, Sojo Studios is an entertainment company that creates social games where players can directly support improvement projects in the U.S. and worldwide, helping to create "social joy." All of Sojo Studios' projects are executed in the field by 501(c)(3) nonprofit partners.
Established in 2010, Sojo Studios embraces the mission of leveraging the best aspects of team play in the virtual world in effecting positive and meaningful change in the real world. For more information, please visit www.sojostudios.com.
SOURCE Sojo Studios