By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Michael Buble is taking his "Christmas" spirit into the virtual realm, collaborating with popular Facebook game "CityVille" and giving an interactive gift to his fans over the holidays.
"CityVille" players will be able to socialize with Buble's personal avatar, which will talk and sing in different settings including a holiday bonfire, as well as hunt for presents that Buble himself would like under his own Christmas tree.
"Social gaming has opened up a new door for artists to connect with their fans," Buble told Reuters, adding that "CityVille" players will "see a different side of me in the game and also connect with me in a really personal way."
"CityVille," developed by social network game company Zynga, allows players to create and grow their own towns, and according to Appdata.com, is the No. 1 game on Facebook. It can also be played through Google Plus and smartphones.
The collaboration with Buble follows Zynga's partnership with Lady Gaga earlier this year, who had her own town called GagaVille on Zynga game "FarmVille." It featured unicorns, crystals and unreleased songs, coinciding with the release of her album "Born This Way."
Grammy-winning Buble, 36, is currently enjoying a fourth week at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart with his holiday record "Christmas," which features a selection of festive classics.
"I set out to record a classic Christmas album in the old style recorded off the floor in the studio. I wanted it to sound and feel authentic," said Buble of his holiday album.
"I think no matter what a person's musical taste is, there is always room to enjoy a great holiday record," he said.
After releasing "Christmas" in October, sales of the album were boosted in the run-up to the holidays, with Buble fending off competition from Rihanna, The Black Keys and Amy Winehouse to keep the top spot on the album chart.
"I don't really look at is as a contest against other artists or releases," said the Canadian singer, adding that he was "thrilled" with the public's enthusiastic response to it.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)