The platform manager at Facebook believes that the social networking site will have its Halo or Mario breakout hit soon.
You could definitely make the case that FarmVille is a hit game, with over 83.1 million active users currently listed on its Facebook wall. But the platform manager (if you consider that Facebook is a game platform) at the social site, Gareth Davis, said the he believes there is a bigger hit yet to come. Just as early console platforms had breakout hits like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog sell their hardware, Davis believes that Facebook's "killer app" is on the way.
"What we're about to see is the next level of social game play. The language of social gaming is being invented and we have a few of the building blocks, but many more are about to be discovered," Davis said. "There will be a killer app for social games in the same way that Mario was for Nintendo, Sonic was for Sega and Halo was for Xbox. We're going to have our Halo, our Mario, soon."
Interestingly, he doesn't think that Zynga's farm simulator is the kind of game that will fit the bill.
"I think FarmVille is a great game, but it is a light simulation that has mass appeal," he said. "I think that we will see a new kind of game that people have not really seen before. It may have a traditional IP on it, it doesn't have to be completely out of left field, but we're expecting those great experiences to show up."
Gareth Davis will be on hand during GDC next week and is slated to deliver a speech on social gaming for the conference's Social & Online Games Summit. I can't wait to hear him speak about Facebook's new initiatives in gaming, such as Facebook Connect and the Game Dashboard.
With Facebook Connect, Davis envisions "multi-device gaming" which will bring different experiences to different gamers based on what device they are using. It's an amazing concept for gamers, as Davis explains:
Let's say three of us are each playing the same game but on a different device. The game will be tailored to the device. So if I'm playing the war game on my Xbox and I'm in the living room, where I have a big-screen TV, a great speaker system, a controller, maybe I'm playing the action sequence. Perhaps my friend is at a desktop PC with a computer screen, keyboard and a mouse, and she's doing the strategic aspect of the game, like calling in air strikes to weaken the enemy before I get there. And maybe you're on the iPhone, a touch and communication device, so you're organizing the squads. Each of us is participating in the same game experience, but in a different way tailored to the power of the devices.
That technology isn't out yet but if that's the kind of thing that Facebook wants to bring to the table then I'm all for it.
Without playing prognosticator too much, there are two games that are being developed for Facebook by very big companies. Sid Meier's Civilization Network was announced for Facebook last year, and EA Sports is working on a version of its Madden franchise for the website. Both of those may be big enough to be killer apps, but it's just as likely that the tentpole Facebook title may come out of left field, just as Davis said.
Hmmm. Left... field....I've got it, a fantasy baseball game! Where you pitch an "email" to your friends and they have a time limit to swing at it or let it go by. Then if you get on base, you can try to steal when your friend pitches to the next user. This has potential!
Where's my check, Facebook?