This is a legitimate and common question as we see more and more social network games created and the growing popularity of these games. When we look at whether or not social network games could threaten the gaming industry, we first have to explore whether or not we even consider these games to be “real” games, in the sense that they can even be compared to traditional games.
According to surveys by PopCap, a leader in social network gaming, they are real games and they make up a large percentage of the gaming industry. However, this percentage and the demographic that makes it might surprise you a little. For example, the poll revealed that the average social gamer is actually the 43 year old woman and also showed that nearly a quarter of consumers play social games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars on a regular basis.
According to the survey, of the “nearly 5,000 consumers who responded to the survey, more than 1,200 play games on social networking sites and platforms at least once a week, qualifying them as “social gamers” for the purposes of the survey”.
Industry analysts predict that social games will bring in revenues of more than $1 billion to the US alone in 2010. When compared to the traditional gaming industry, social network games are still in their early phases so it’s likely they will continue to grow when given the same time that traditional games have had. Some people worry that this growth will threaten the gaming industry as social games edge their way into an already popular niche. But when you look at the facts, this fear just doesn’t seem logical at all.
When it comes to the main question of whether or not social network games threaten the traditional gaming industry, it would seem for the moment the answer is no. The same demographics do not make up each so it’s not likely that one really threatens the other. If anything, social network games might help the gaming industry because many people have found them to be a gateway games that lead to an interest in more traditional gaming.
Many users who get into social network games may later find themselves trying more traditional games like RPGs, MMORPGs or even first-person shooters that they can play online with other people. Often this is because they were first exposed to the fun of gaming through social network games. It’s time to embrace a new era in gaming for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Most traditional gamers do not consider social network games to be “real” games at all, even if they sometimes play them themselves. They are just too different at this time to worry that social network games will threaten the gaming industry.
PopCap Survey on Social Gaming