Facebook Gaming Blindsided Traditional Developers

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Facebook Gaming Blindsided Traditional Developers

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In the wake of faltering mainstream gaming sales, Facebook gaming has exploded in popularity, shocking game designers.

In a year where most gaming companies struggled, Facebook games grew by leaps and bounds. The most popular Facebook game FarmVille by producer Zynga has over 79 million monthly active users - more than Twitter's entire userbase.

"Facebook knocked us on our ass this year - we didn't see it coming," game design professor of Carnegie Mellon University Jesse Schell said. "Facebook is terrifying to the traditional games biz."

Schell said the success of Facebook games is due in no small part to the utilization of psychological tricks, where the games are initially free but unlocking special features costs money. Other games such as Mafia Wars, Schell said, have you directly compete against your friends and family. This competitive nature encourages people to play longer and invest more money to win.

Much like the advent of Guitar Hero and Wii Fit these new Facebook games totally blew traditional game developer expectations out of the water, Schell said. These new approaches to gaming could have a huge impact on how developers make games. Schell predicts the methods social networking sites like Facebook ingratiate themselves into a person's everyday life will become more prevalent with gaming as well. Marketers, investors and even the government, Schell said, are investing in ways to capitalize on the increasing ubiquity of games in order to use them to reach more people in new ways.

While this will likely lead to an even greater commercialism of gaming, Schell said, it will also give a unique opportunity to developers. Developers will be challenged to go beyond making games, Schell said, and tailor the experience to become a major part of the player's life.

If this is the case, it seems a number of developers have already figured it out. World of Warcraft has been running strong for years, after all.

Source: Industry Gamers

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So... they're more popular because they essentially trick you into playing longer and paying more as you go. Said popularity will cause other developers to use some of the same tricks. Awesome. We really need more games that steal peoples' lives.

So... people are going to knock off Facebook games? Great, I'm ever so enthusiastic about that.

I never saw the appeal of Facebook games like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. FarmVille just looks like a bad version of Harvest Moon.

The most popular Facebook game FarmVille by producer Zynga has over 79 million monthly active users - more than Twitter's entire userbase.

By Haruhi that's depressing.

There is a good reason they got blindsided...Facebook...is not a gaming platform -.-

Every week more and more developers are saying this. But as these games are based around scams (admitted by the Devs themselves).

Is this really a good thing? Or does it show that the gaming market has just been closed to people outside of the gaming world.

These games are poor at worst and adictive at best.

They are boring, repeditive and have absolutely no plot and aim in sight. I played it each of them for a week and got bored because these 'games' were lacking something that gaming has to have, Fun.

Though the app 'mindgames' on facebook is kinda good as it has flash games and old school games with scores for you to compete against your friends.

This, along with the release of games by top game publishers on this social networking site might actually bring people to buy games based on consumer recognition of products.

Also, there is a FPS called braves arms in the making... signed up and waiting to kill my friends with that.

I would speculate that they're popular because they're free myself, that and they're instantly tied to a Social Network which gives them an "MMO-ish" feel. Primarily though, I think the "free" is a big selling point.

MetaKnight19:
I never saw the appeal of Facebook games like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. FarmVille just looks like a bad version of Harvest Moon.

That's the impression I had. Then I played Farmville. Honestly, it doesn't even deserve to be called that... Does this mean they're going to work more on the online aspect of games, make it more "networkable"? Or everyone's going to start making facebook games. Cause that just sounds like hell.

If this is the future of gaming I will very likely kill myself or at least go creaming naked down the street. Though I'm not sure which is worse and for whom...

brunothepig:

MetaKnight19:
I never saw the appeal of Facebook games like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. FarmVille just looks like a bad version of Harvest Moon.

That's the impression I had. Then I played Farmville. Honestly, it doesn't even deserve to be called that... Does this mean they're going to work more on the online aspect of games, make it more "networkable"? Or everyone's going to start making facebook games. Cause that just sounds like hell.

Not necessarily. With an increase in focus in developing games for Facebook, and interest in the platform from developers, there could very well be several games made for a slightly more hardcore (whilst still predominantly casual) market. Hell, they might even be fun. Of course, I suspect the relative success of Farmville can be, at least in part, attributed to the fact that it is free, at least just to simply play, and easily accessible. Any developers with a hope of getting a decent amount of revenue will most likely have to adopt a micro-transaction payment system.

To tell the truth, if this leads developers to make a few games worth playing on Facebook, then I'm all for it. For the record, the only reason I even made a Facebook account was when I heard there would be a Civ game on it. I jumped on the bandwagon instantly.

Jaredin:
There is a good reason they got blindsided...Facebook...is not a gaming platform -.-

It is now. And with Civ coming to Facebook, I can see the quality of games on that very platform going up.

It looks like the gaming industry is divided between the big makers, who looks so narrowly as to only see the hardcore gaming crowd and cannot fathom a game not based around murdering everything on your path, and Facebook, who target people who are not into gaming by making them super-simple, connecting them to something they likely use every day, and scamming them out of their money.

Neither concept will last longer. Hopefully, something better will rise out of its ashes.

I have mixed opinions, in simple terms I think the Facebook games succeeded by appealing to the lowest human denominator. That is one of the reasons why those marketing tactics worked. Consider that "real gamers" tend to be very critical of this kind of thing and rarely fall prey to such psychological marketing. Most attempts at this through free to play MMORPGs and the like have had very mixed reactions when dealing with the "real gamers" who tend to be wary of this kind of thing.

I think people are willing to spend money on Farmville and the like specifically because they exist outside the gaming community and have no real experience with games. Them discovering these games because of the connection to shallow services like Facebook that
draw the masses in. With no "real" games to compare them to, they have no conception of what they should logically be expecting from a game quality wise in exchange for their money.

In the end I expect you will see more people trying to develop games like that, and of course in the end it will fail because given enough time even the biggest sucker is going to wise up somewhat. Not to mention the fact that if more games appear, it's going to split the market up, and so say if we see a hundred of these things, your likely to see each one with like a million subscribers instead of that "oh wow, 79 million people spending money on this one game" phenomena they want to be a part of.

In the end I imagine real gamers have little to worry about from this, other than the fact that some of our favorite game developers are likely to delay projects to "jump into the Facebook Money Bin" and then probably wind up taking a bath. I can't help but wonder how many layoffs are going to be directly attributed to "real developers" trying to capitolize on this and enthusiasticly jumping on the fail train right before it crashes.

Basically what your looking at is the handful of MMOGs that got lucky, compared to all those Korean ones with their hidden charges and "cash shops" that choke the internet and generate lulz from the rest of the gaming community. Sadly I kind of miss Something Awful's "MMO Roulette" since a goon invasion of some of these "casual MMO browser games" would make me laugh. :P

This has actually become my basis for finding out who in my circle of friends is a real gamer, rather than a casual gamer.

Any friend who plays games on Facebook will not play console games. At all. Anyone who actively hates Facebook games is a console gamer, and people who do neither are either PC gamers, or they enjoy casual console games.

It's an actual trend. Unrelated to people as a whole, I'm sure, but interesting for me.

Farmville is fun as hell.

Thats pretty much it. I've had more fun with Farmville then I'll ever have with Wii Fit.

I lost interest in Farmville relatively quickly due to the game requiring numerous purchases to be made before you are capable of doing much, even farm expansion demands a large neighborhood. However I will concede to having fancied Castle Age, which while certainly a "money" game does not demand the aforementioned. You can play without ever having offered a dime and the time dedication is minimal.

Frankly I am beginning to ponder if the gaming industry would be better advised providing less content upon launch at a fraction of the price while allotting for endless waves of downloadable content to bolster sales. It is in essence what Farmville does.

Gee. If only there were a gaming website that had predicted this trend months ago, built game-like functionality into its core systems, and had a motto based on the notion that we'll all be playing games in every aspect of their lives.

Oh wait... there is, and I wrote a publisher's note about this months ago.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/publishers-note/6755-Publishers-Note-Play-Life-and-Live-Games

Ouch, so far ahead of the curve I keep falling off.

gee i hate facebook and other social net sites , i have a 360 and pos ps3 for gaming
sony did they same thing with home and got so bad i hate it

Huge Sweeping Generalisation

The 79 million playing FarmVille are not what I would call stereotypical gamers.

These are the 'social butterfly people' who discovered they can cruise FB and play cutesy NDS-type games as well. Probably made predominantly up of the late X and Baby Boomer gens that can actually use a PC.

This generalisation brought to you by my raging bile duct and chicken-in-a-can!

If that is the future of gaming I will officially renounce all gaming forever.

...well except retro gaming.

Austin MacKenzie:
These new approaches to gaming could have a huge impact on how developers make games.

NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Damn you, Facebook!

The only flash on FAcebook I'll play is desk defense, and I was playing that way before the dev of that sold their soul to FAcebook. I hate the commercialization of it though. Fuck that.

I must be the only one with a facebook but has never ever touched one of the stupid extra apps. I just use it to stay in contact. If I want a game to play I bloody use this

Not some crappy browser based game.

ShadowKirby:

Jaredin:
There is a good reason they got blindsided...Facebook...is not a gaming platform -.-

It is now. And with Civ coming to Facebook, I can see the quality of games on that very platform going up.

No, it's not. And it never will be. I don't care if valve, blizzard, bioware and other things ever make games for it. It's not.

Everyone chill. this doesn't game will suck forever. These games are succeeding because of the forgiving price structure (most people would rather pay as they go for features they care about, than put down $60 in advance for a game they may not even like.) and the popular appeal of the Facebook platform. Like the Wii, Facebook is expanding the gaming market by reaching out to traditional non-gamers. Shovelware is common on both platforms because the audience, by and large, isn't sophisticated enough to identify good games yet, but as the audience and the platform matures, the quality of games will inevitably rise.

I wonder how many of these Farmville players are situational in the sense of they are waiting for something interesting to happen online or in life. I would imagine these players are highly transient when it comes to what they are wanting to play, and will migrate to the lasted fad when they are bored with Facebook. Blindsided they may have been, but it isn't a trend in gaming that I see having a long term sustainability.

Know what's crazy? Gamers making wild generalization about people people on Facebook that get enraged when people make generalization about them.

Facebook is a freaking huge and untapped market for more traditional devs and publishers. I'm pretty sure that there are great concepts that could be implemented using the Facebook infrastructure.

Archon:
Gee. If only there were a gaming website that had predicted this trend months ago, built game-like functionality into its core systems, and had a motto based on the notion that we'll all be playing games in every aspect of their lives.

Oh wait... there is, and I wrote a publisher's note about this months ago.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/publishers-note/6755-Publishers-Note-Play-Life-and-Live-Games

Ouch, so far ahead of the curve I keep falling off.

Zing!
And months ago I also predicted the "hardcore" gamers would bitch about it. Maybe because they just hate what's cool now.

Snotnarok:
If I want a game to play I bloody use this

Nice setup, but I'd insist your Megadrive/Genesis is missing a 32x, just because that awful thing provided me with hours of entertainment as a kid and it just doesn't look complete without it!

Facebook games... I'll pass, myself, wait 'til they develop better and grow more into my kinds of games. FarmVille is basically just a loading bar which you can click to make it go faster. I'm tempted to make my friends who play it install Progress Quest in order to purge their minds of the idea that FarmVille is somehow accomplishing anything, or that they'll reflect positively on it ever. It's a pleasant distraction, but there are much better games with similar relaxation levels out there.

I think a big part of it is it's "timefree" nature. It's not turn-based, or "real-time" as core games use it. Once you click, events happen, but progress occurs both constantly according to real-world time, regardless of whether the browser is open to FarmVille, and occur in a sort of stasis where at any point you can get up, walk away, chat with your friends, and then come back and continue clicking with absolutely no cost to your game performance. No stress, no challenge, just pleasantly clicking away to make isometric graphics spread across "your" farm, which anyone can see and you can lay out as you wish.

Hm. It's basically Animal Crossing with a Harvest Moon aesthetic, except there's no other animals/residents, and you can connect to everyone else you know who plays it much, much easier. This form certainly has potential for more core games.

Archon:
Gee. If only there were a gaming website that had predicted this trend months ago, built game-like functionality into its core systems, and had a motto based on the notion that we'll all be playing games in every aspect of their lives.

Oh wait... there is, and I wrote a publisher's note about this months ago.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/publishers-note/6755-Publishers-Note-Play-Life-and-Live-Games

Ouch, so far ahead of the curve I keep falling off.

The curve that was charted years ago?

I love this site and all, but your high horse is a little low. Gamasutra has articles on this from back in '07.

Aaaanyways, on topic:
Farmville? It's Diablo with kittens and horses. How can you not enjoy it?

Pimppeter2:
Farmville is fun as hell.

Thats pretty much it. I've had more fun with Farmville then I'll ever have with Wii Fit.

I'd add in most modern FPSes there too.
And oddly enough, as far as FB games go, Farmville's one of my least favourites. Zoo World, now there's the bunny.

If developers start copying these awful pieces of rubbish and selling them at retail price then the amount of quality releases will once again shrink vastly.

I find these Facebook games to be utterly shoite. However, I can see why they appeal to most people. It's a matter of sitting down for a couple of minutes, clicking a couple of colourful objects. Most console games require a wee bit more commitment to play. However, they end out being much, much better.

I cant stand Farmville! Does anyone think that one mouse click at a time is gaming? Even Tetris had you hitting multiple buttons! If this has any actual impact on developers, I'm going to be so ticked.

I did MafiaWars for a couple of weeks when I first got on Facebook. I don't think I've played it for about 3 months. It got really boring. I just clicked on the same button for maybe 5-10 minutes a day for what amounted to nothing, just weapons to use against 'friends' with no discernible result if I beat them. No story or strategy at all was involved in it, so I just stopped.

I'm really hoping the Civ game will be a bit better though. If not, there is always Civ V to look farward to.

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