Great article over here regarding, what I believe is the inevitable bubble bust:
With free virality shut down, social game developers are now forced to compete in the full online game market where a slew of great multiplayer games (such as Club Penguin and Runescape), which interestingly are not called “social media games” because they don’t NEED a social network for distribution, succeed and thrive purely on their viral merits with no investment support or dependence on Facebook for their enormous popularity. This creates a very interesting situation: games that nobody wants to play unless they are inside a social network competing against great viral multiplayer games that monetize and spread more efficiently than social media games once “normal” market pricing for promotion is introduced on Facebook. The only advantage social media games have currently is that the Valley thinks they are “hot” and is willing to invest lots of money in them.
Totally true. I would venture to bet that most Facebook games out there would never be able to stand on there own on a platform like Steam. Facebook games are the fish. Facebook is the water. They will suffocate without some serious evolution towards being more like their standalone cousins than what they are now.
They main driver is that the granola crunching hipsters with the money think that “social gaming” is the shizzle…and I get that. Looking at the numbers, its totally understandable to think that. But those providing the money have very short memories and are extremely ignorant of technology. Facebook is a terrible platform for gaming. Awful… awful…awful. Facebook itself is THE catalyst to the coming “social gaming” bubble burst because it gives the impression that your game is good. I fear that a lot of the devs working on titles like Farmville and others are not asking themselves an extremely relevant and important game design question: would people play this if it were not on Facebook? That question probably isn’t even entering their heads at the moment.
Love the way he ends the article:
In the end, I believe that “social games” as we know them will be a forgotten internet fad, ultimately consumed by the already mature online market for downloadable and multiplayer games. The only NEW discoveries that remain will be the realization that social networking itself is a new kind of game play, social graphs are an extremely efficient way for games to market themselves and that microcurrency business models blended with advertising are a superior way to monetize online games in general. Everything else will be consumed by the highly competitive and established downloadable and multiplayer online game market. If some of the big names in social media gaming survive, it will be because they leveraged their abundant access to capital to transform themselves away from dependence on Facebook.