Lionside is all about two things: sports and social networks. It started with the release of Lionside Football, and more recently the developer brought the world of pro basketball to Facebook with the excellent NBA Legend. Gamezebo recently had the chance to chat with Brandon Barber, Lionside’s founder and marketing and production VP, about taking the NBA social and why Facebook and sports are such a good fit.

Why NBA Legend? What’s the significance behind the name?

There are many players in the history of the NBA, but few true “Legends.” We wanted to create an experience that reflected the significance of becoming a Legend in the sport at the highest level and a deep storyline that supported it. The mission system in the game is designed to lead players through a narrative on their way to achieving Legend status. As you progress through the five status levels — Prospect, Rookie, Starter, Star and Legend — more legendary players become available to add to your team. Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Dr. J, and others Legends of the same caliber unlock in the later stages of the game.

What is the actual gameplay be like? What can players expect from the experience?

The gameplay is designed to be fun and highly social. NBA Legend is intentionally not like some of the sports simulations that you may be familiar with in a console environment. We believe that players on Facebook aren’t looking for skill-based fast-twitch mechanics. We felt that a big part of being an NBA fan is representing your team to the fullest extent possible. in NBA Legend players can completely trick out their player avatar and homecourt environment to look exactly like they want it to.

It sounds like the NBA was very involved in the design process. What was it like working so closely with them?

We’ve had a blast working with the NBA. They’ve been an extremely smart, proactive partner and they really get the social landscape. We’re both committed to evolving and growing this game over time.

Your studio focuses specifically on sports games for social networks. What is it about sports that makes them such a good fit for platforms like Facebook?

We’re focused on bringing the passion and emotion of sports to Facebook and other social platforms. As huge sports fans and passionate gamers, we believe that there is a healthy vertical here. Social gaming is still very much in its infancy. The genres available to gamers currently are very restricted. We feel like sports fans might not be as interested in planting corn as they may be in beating their rival in NBA Legend. Also, we believe that sports is inherently social. Whether you’re watching the game on the couch with your friends or in the stadium screaming your head off with thousands of other fans, sports is about social interaction. Facebook is a perfect platform to bring those shared passions together.

What does having a license such as the NBA add to the experience?

The NBA license is an amazing asset. We have access to all teams, players and coaches as well as the full support of the league. That allows us to build the kind of product that NBA fans want to play. We’re really excited about that.

Any final words for your fans out there?

Stay tuned! The great thing about social games is that they change constantly. We will be adding new features and content every single week.