Random House announces F2P browser game, Black Crown

We're used to seeing games borrow from older narrative forms like books and movies, but it's not every day that you see that influence in reverse. Random House has announced the "Black Crown Project," a free-to-play browser-based game that the book publisher says is its first step in broadening its publishing platforms. "Stage One" of the game launched today, and is said to last about a month.

You can play on the official site. Its story is written by newcomer Rob Sherman, and details the Widsith Institute. The shady business works with diseases as detailed in diaries and journals kept by great explorers. By rifling through the institute's documents and artifacts, you'll learn about the story of the Miasma Eremite, who journeyed to a town called Loss.

The business model relies on microtransactions for extra bits of the story, to make the plot move along faster, and acquire items and status in the world.

"Black Crown represents Random House's ambition to push the boundaries in online storytelling, experiment with new business models and launch a debut author in a groundbreaking way," Random House digital publisher Dan Franklin said, in the announcement. "Rob Sherman is a superb writer and a rare talent, and I'm delighted to be publishing him in this way."