Facebook hopes that the addition of ten "high quality" new games by third-party developers will draw the core gamer demographic into its loving embrace.
Your mom plays Facebook games. No, seriously, she probably does. That's the audience that the phrase "Facebook games," with fare like FarmVille, CityVille and Treasure Isle, is most likely to bring to mind, after all, and your mom loves that kind of stuff. But your little brother, Timmy Twitchthumbs? Not so much.
His demographic is an audience that Facebook is hoping to attract in 2013 with the addition of ten new games aimed at bringing in core gamers. The goal, according to Facebook's game partnership boss Sean Ryan, is to incorporate everything from "casual all the way up through first-person shooters, massively multiplayer online games, real-time strategy games - all those types of more core player-versus-player games."
"You'll see a whole set of games hitting in the next two quarters in particular and throughout the year that really start to redefine what people think of Facebook games," he said. "It doesn't mean we're walking away from other games, but there's no question our focus for 2013 much of it will be about becoming a better platform for core gamers and developers who make those games."
It's a lucrative market: While Zynga slowly comes apart at the seams, War Commander studio Kixeye - the company Zynga not so long ago derided as unsuccessful and irrelevant - said it has maintained profitability for the past three years because its audience spends 20 times as much money as conventional social gamers.
"Hardcore gamers pay more, play more and generate higher average revenue per user than traditional casual games," added Gabi Shalel, chief marketing officer at Plarium, the studio behind the RTS Stormfall: Age of War.
Facebook actually began its move toward core games last year but plans to ramp up the effort in 2013. New action and strategy game categories have been added to the app center and notification messages, which Facebook had previously removed, are being reinstated, with limits to ensure that players don't end up buried in spam.