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The Godfather starts social game turf war

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Don Vito Corleone is about to make social network game fans an offer. Think they're going to refuse it?

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The Godfather: Five Families (Kabam)

Kabam, the company behind Global Warfare and Kingdoms of Camelot, and Paramount, the studio behind "The Godfather" film series, are working together to bring the classic crime saga to social network sites.

The Godfather: Five Families will act as a prequel to the book and films. Set 10 years before the first film, it will document the rise to power of the Corleones, Straccis, Cuneos, Barzinis and Tattaglias in an empire-building game environment.

You'll join one of those families and put together a crew of hoodlums, looking to make your bones and climb the family ladder in a bid to become the Don.

The developer says it wants to recreate the dark themes of the franchise instead of leaning towards the light, breezy titles that often do well on social networks.

"We didn't want to make a cutesy, casual version of the Godfather universe," said Lawrence Koh, general manager of Kabam.

Kabam stopped short of naming exactly which platforms the game will appear on, but Facebook's a solid guess -- and Google Plus is a likely contender as well. The game will officially debut this fall, but the developer is already accepting players in a closed beta test.

The Godfather's moving into a neighborhood that already has a pretty sizable organized crime presence. Zynga's Mafia Wars has more than 6 million active accounts, according to AppData. Its popularity seems to be waning, though, which could open the door for Kabam to steal players.

This, of course, isn't the first time The Godfather has tried to shake down the video game industry.

Electronic Arts released a title in 2006 that featured voice acting by Marlon Brando, the last performance by the great actor. James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Abe Vigoda took part in the game as well. (Francis Ford Coppola, however, who directed the 1972 film, openly criticized the game.)

Reviews were so-so, but the game sold enough copies for EA to publish a sequel in 2009 based on The Godfather II. That, too, earned mixed reviews, and the company chose to leave the cannoli -- and the series -- behind.

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