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DQ markets branded video game

MINNEAPOLIS Looking for additional brand exposure, Dairy Queen will sell a video game this holiday season, “DQ Tycoon,” that mimics running one of its quick-service restaurants, the company said Friday.

The chain, best known for its frozen treats, will sell the game in Target Stores nationwide and online starting Friday. It is priced at $19.99.

“We are excited about ‘DQ Tycoon,’ as it is a way for us to reach out to our fans and to consumers in a new, fun way,” said Tim Hawley, vice president of marketing and communications for American Dairy Queen Corp., which franchises the chain of more than 5,600 restaurants.

Video games sales remain hot in the United States despite the fall in consumers’ discretionary income during this latest recession, and many restaurants have turned to the brand-building technique. According to The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm, video games sales in November increased 10 percent from a year ago to $2.91 billion.

Burger King sells three video games starring its mascot, The King, for $3.99 with the purchase of any value meal: “Big Bumpin’,” “Sneak King” and “Pocketbike Racer.” The company often has cited The King as a sales driver, whether through television commercials or gaming efforts. Pizza Hut not only advertised with a virtual restaurant in the background of this year’s “Midnight Club LA,” but also experimented with directly selling pizzas to online players of the role-playing “EverQuest” a few years ago. Quick-service chicken chain Zaxby’s and coffeehouse chain The Coffee Bean also put virtual restaurants in “Midnight Club LA,” a car-racing game developed by Rockstar Games.

Dairy Queen is not the first brand to develop a simulated-restaurant game. In 2003, Enlight Software released “Trevor Chan’s Restaurant Empire,” which required gamers to manage the entrepreneurial career of a culinary school graduate and build a restaurant from the ground up. A full-service simulated game called "Restaurant Tycoon" was created years ago.

Gamers who play “DQ Tycoon” on their PCs can create new flavors of the chain’s signature Blizzard, serve Dilly Bars and decorate DQ Cakes. Players also can manage the operations of four separate Dairy Queens, where they must manage staff and upgrade equipment.

The DQ game was created by Minneapolis-based GameMill Entertainment and Spark Plug Games.

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