The player base for social games dwarfs that of even the most successful “hardcore” titles, so what do social game makers know that the likes of EA and Activision do not?
Even the staunchest critics of social gaming would find it hard to deny that it attracts a massive audience, making the millions that play games like World of Warcraft or Modern Warfare 2 look like small change. In Issue 264 of The Escapist, Erin Hoffman argues that a combination of prejudice and pride meant that the gaming industry ignored the possibilities of social gaming, leaving the door open for companies like Zynga to capitalize on its mistake.
In effect, metrics-driven online companies invest a substantial portion of their development in monitoring and analyzing player statistics … nothing cuts through a four-hour design argument quite like saying, “I did this scientific test and here are the numbers – bitch.”
The game industry missed the social game revolution. All of this – our intellectual tendency to complain “But it isn’t that simple!”, combined with the fundamentally romantic notion that our creativity cannot possibly be enslaved to numbers (as if numbers were a master and not a tool) – is why a bunch of web marketers swooped in and ate our damn lunch.
Should the videogame industry be taking several leaves out of Zynga’s book, or do social and hardcore games represent two distinct audiences? Read the rest of How Social Games Ate Our Lunch, and let us know what you think.