The Facebook game enables players to create their own Best Buy stores.

With 41% of U.S. Internet users playing online social games, such as Zynga Inc.’s CityVille game available on Facebook, retailers are finding new ways to reach consumers. A “Social Gamer Study” from Information Solutions Group found that 98 million, or 41%, of U.S. Internet users have played online social games.

For instance, Best Buy Co. now enables consumers to add a virtual Best Buy store to a virtual CityVille city. In a CityVille game, players build houses, businesses and roads to create a city, seeking to collect points they can use to unlock new game features. The more prosperous the city is, the more points the player earns.

Best Buy is the first branded retail store in CityVille, Zynga says. Players can place other businesses in their games, but they have generic names, like bakery or toy shop.

“We are constantly looking for unexpected ways to stay connected with our customers through new digital platforms and with the popularity of CityVille, this was a natural step,” says Alix Hart, Best Buy senior director of digital marketing.

Zynga says more than 230 million active users plays its games, which also include Words With Friends and Mafia Wars. Zynga does not release totals for individual games. Web Media Brands Inc.’s App Data service says more than 71 million Facebook users play CityVille, which debuted in November 2010.


Best Buy is No. 11 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.