Are the curtains closing on social media games?
With over 10 million active players daily, Sim Social was one of EA’s (Electronic Arts) most successful social games in 2011. Recently, EA announced that it was shutting down Pet Society and Sim City Social. Their announcement came as a shock, especially after Zynga decided to lay-off about one-fifth (520) of its employees. The impact of these announcements was felt across the gaming industry, and it put a dent on it. With the growing number of mobile developers, are social media games slowly fading into the background?
Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Social Gaming Network (SGN), said that “you shouldn’t force a developer to either build on Facebook, or on iOS, or on Android, and make them decide on one.” He believes that this is a disadvantage for the smaller developers. Chris and his team at SGN developed a new technology called Masterkey, which allowed them to build a game once and distribute it seamlessly on all platforms. On the other hand, PlayPhone and Verizonwireless partnered together and built an Android-based gaming network called Games Portal. Zynga also launched a social gaming place called Zynga Platform. Their aim is to lessen their dependency on Facebook, work with third-party developers, and offer something new to the table. However, not all of them are designed for mobile and they should stay that way. The success of these new gaming avenues will actually depend on the market’s enthusiasm.
Facebook introduced the idea of cross-platform games to developers. Almost all of the most popular titles are on it and that became a problem—there were too many of them. Before, people only had a handful of games (Mafia Wars and Farmville), but now there are thousands of games available and everyone wants a piece of the pie. Even titles from other platforms are going mobile and social. Since people have a lot of games to choose from, their enthusiasm is also dwindling. Imagine having 53,000,000 social gamers sending you game requests, all at the same time. Now, that could really break your account. Thanks to innovations like Apple’s Game Center, status updates can now be controlled and be less prominent on the news feeds. Intuitive features and engaging content are what players are looking for in games.
In the United States alone, 59% of the social gaming revenue was from virtual goods purchases, while 20.5% came from advertisements. Although, traditional still earn more than social games, the industry actually earned $1.32 billion dollars. However, developers still need to create better products because these only have a 3-month life span on mobile devices. Players easily get bored with games and move on to the next one. This can definitely slow down sales, but working with advertising partners can bring in the revenue needed. Always remember: people are willing to pay for things that are cool.
Social media games started the revolution for mobile games—they came from the same vein to be exact. Developers must learn to back to the drawing board and put back the social into social games. Engage users, don’t force them to shell-out cash, and always listen to what they want. The growth of this sector may be slow, but it will eventually rise in due time. What do you of the latest social gaming trend?