The social gaming scene has been booming for some time now but even the most diehard fans of Bejeweled Blitz and Farmville will eventually get bored and move onto other things. Social gaming will have to stay fresh if it wants to continue to be successful. There are many developers looking at new ways to improve social gaming over the next several years and there are other ways that social gaming can improve that might not have been thought of yet.
1. Video Game Developers
Even though video games are a big business now the economy is hurting everybody. The developers of more “hardcore” console gaming will likely adventure into more social gaming because even though hardcore gamers don’t want to admit it, casual gamers is where money is going to be made.
Some of these developers will create social games similar to the games they are already making on the consoles, like EA’s Madden NFL Superstars. Other developers will make completely new games, like Ubisoft’s Horse Gaga.
Either way large video game developers delving into the world of social gaming is a good thing for social games. No offense to the developers that already make social games, but the console developers have been creating more extensive games for years and they could potentially push social games to a whole new level. Take for example EA. EA has added to their Madden series of football games for years. There is now a very complex franchise mode that allows players to trade players, draft players and make other decisions for their organization. The developers have always had to leave a large portion of their resources for the graphics though.
Now imagine what they can do when the graphics aren’t involved. The developers will spend less time on graphics. The developers will spend less money on graphics. The developers will now be able to focus on all the different features and can make a text-based or stat-based game that is even better than the franchise mode on Madden.
It’s not enough for these developers of console games to create games for Facebook but there needs to be some kind of integration between social gaming and console gaming. If Facebook users get some kind of bonus for their game for playing a console, Playstation Network or Xbox Live then that casual gamer could eventually become a hardcore gamer.
Let’s use Grand Theft Auto as an example. What if Rockstar created a game similar to Grand Theft Auto that was a social game for Facebook? The player would not get to run around Vice City blowing things up but they could make the decisions of the main character like Mafia Wars. If this became popular as a social game then Rockstar could then offer some kind of bonus if social gaming users played the actual console version of Grand Theft Auto. Once they play it, the developer hopes they get hooked and now there is one more hardcore gamer.
Converting casual gamers to hardcore gamers might seem unlikely but in 1980 did you think in 30 years that some the most popular movie franchises would be Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Transformers, Twilight and Iron Man? If comic book movies can be mainstream then why can’t hard core gaming titles?
3. Asian Market
Many of the popular social games were based on games that were made in Asia. In Asia, particularly China, they have their own social networks because Facebook is not allowed. Since Facebook was not allowed in China the Chinese developers would only make games for their own social network and then their ideas would be “borrowed” by American developers for Facebook. Farmville, for example, is a basically a copy of Happy Farm with just a few changes.
Now that Asia sees the money in Facebook some Chinese and Korean developers are looking into releasing games straight to Facebook. Asian developers on Facebook have a lot of promise for social gaming because they come up with some pretty wacky ideas for games. Also the Americanized versions of Asian social games are often changed to be more “family friendly.” For example in the Chinese version of Farmville, called Happy Farm, farmers can sabotage the other farmers’ land. Perhaps the Asians versions will not be liked as much, especially by parents that don’t even want their kid simulating something bad, but we’ll see if Americans prefer the Asian versions soon.
Facebook is where most of the social gaming takes place but with the popularity of Twitter some developers are going to take advantage of it. One company, Play140, is already planning on developing text-based games that can be played on Twitter. The first game is called The Acronym Game or T. A. G. for short. Anybody can subscribe to the game @play140_TAG. Every 10 minutes they post a category and then three or four letters. Those that want to play will then tweet back an acronym for the letters that falls in the topic given. The answers will then be posted and players can vote for the best acronym.
Honestly, T. A. G. probably isn’t going to set the world on fire but it’s a new idea that other developers should consider. Maybe the best use of Twitter would be some sort of choose your own adventure game. Different scenarios could be presented to the Twitter followers. The followers could choose a scenario and the somehow they are given a result based on what scenario they chose.
5. Motion Sensor Controls
The Nintendo Wii is loved by casual gamers and the motion sensor Wii controller is part of the reason. The future of motion sensor controls looks bright enough that Sony has countered with the Playstation Move and Microsoft is releasing the Kinect, a console that will have no controller at all. So here’s the million dollar question. If casual gamers love social games and casual gamers love motion sensor controls and casual gamers are the cash cow of video games, then how long will it be before somebody figures out that social gaming and motion sensor controls together can make a lot of money?
Is it even possible to create a motion sensor controller for a computer? Will gamers want a motion sensor control when most users sit at a desk to play social games? Are the graphics of a social game good enough to even bother with something like being able to control a character? Who knows, it might seem like a horrible idea but when the Nintendo Wii was first announced everybody thought it was going to be Power Glove and now it is the most popular of the three consoles.
Play140 – @play140_TAG
Karl Lukoff, Copying is not the future of social gaming, Games Beat
Madden NFL Superstars Now Live on Facebook, EASports.com