In recession, social gaming comes of age (Part 2)

June 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM Leave a comment

Zynga is now part of the social gaming establishment and it has fended off challengers such as Electronic Arts, which is losing some of its talent to the social gaming industry. Zynga and rivals such as Social Gaming Network are expanding into iPhone games. Indeed, SGN has become one of the largest iPhone developers since it began focusing on the platform last year. That market is growing fast as well and it has some elements of social gaming’s virality, but it isn’t yet as profitable as Facebook games, said Mark Pincus (pictured far right), chief executive of Zynga. One of the big reasons is that Facebook’s 200-million strong social network enables the viral distribution of games on a scale that the iPhone just can’t match yet. While there are at least 14,000 games on Facebook, according to Smith, and 56,000 games on the iPhone, it’s far easier to discover Facebook games through friend recommendations.

sgs-4It is this reality — that you’re playing games with your own friends in real life — that makes social gaming so powerfully addictive, Pincus said. Those friends spread the word. That is how Playfish was able to get five million users for its Restaurant City game in just five weeks. Playfish was able to do that even though it doesn’t use artificial, spam-like means to spread its games fast.

Yet some social game companies choose to do that. Playdom and Zynga, for example, spend money on ads to acquire new users as they make up for users who become inactive. Facebook has clamped down on the worst cases where games automatically spammed invitations to an entire friends list over the last several years. So the resulting viral spread of games is more genuine and thus more sustainable. But buying customers has almost become a standard practice, since so many fickle customers move on quickly to try the dozens of new choices they have every day. If anything, social gaming has proven to be one of the most brutal competitive markets in commercial history.

Entry filed under: Gamer's Base, Web News & Trends. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

In recession, social gaming comes of age (Part 1) Got the iPhone 3GS? Don’t Use Magnetic Cases

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