LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Not many branded iPhone games have broken through, but a new one from U.K.-based Barclaycard has quickly become the most popular free, branded game in the history of the iTunes App Store.
"Waterslide Extreme" has recorded 4 million downloads from the iTunes App Store since its launch in mid-July, according to data provided by Hamburg-based Fishlabs, the game's developer.
Toby Horry, planning director at Dare, the Barclaycard agency behind the game, said it became the No. 1 free app in 57 countries and is promoted as an App Store staff favorite. That's quite an achievement considering game apps haven't found as much success as more-useful tools, such as store locators.
The game is based on a popular TV spot by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, in which an office worker strips down to his Speedo and gets on a water slide for a high-octane commute home. On the way, he uses his Barclaycard at various points to pay for groceries or train tickets.
In the iPhone game, players negotiate their way down the twists and turns of a massive urban water slide, picking up as many points as they can along the way. Players can ride the slide from a first-person or third-person perspective as either a male or a female character. The app is subtly branded with the Barclaycard logo.
The idea behind the game was to demonstrate the convenience of Barclaycard's so-called "contactless technology," which allows customers to complete many transactions without swiping their cards.
"The launch of the iPhone game is a first in financial services," said Paul Troy, head of advertising and sponsorship at Barclaycard. "The water-slide ad has engaged millions online, and this game gives consumers the opportunity to go on the water slide themselves."
The TV ad, along with the online conversations and Facebook groups it sparked, also inspired Dare to set up a YouTube channel dedicated to challenging people to create their own versions of the ad. It attracted more than 1.5 million views and some very entertaining entries.
While the iPhone app has been popular, it's left some consumers less than impressed. The average rating is two-and-a-half stars (out of five), and more than one-third of those who gave it a grade gave it just one star. Mr. Horry pointed out, however, that users are invited to review an app when they delete it, which contributes to negativity, and that some reviewers say they love it and then give it only one star, which suggests some confusion about the scoring.