The Reason Why Social Games Will Never Replace Anything

I have a poll here:

[poll id=32]
(Define “playing” as you want, “short testing” is not “playing” in my books)

And by the look of results, everybody and their mom will notice that no game developer really plays these games. Okay, there will be some odd sheeps that play these games but 89%* of the developers will think like whadda heck are these social players thinking. FB games won’t replace their playing habits.

*Fact that will reveal itself after we see some replies on that above poll

I’ve tested some facebook games. Tried Mafia Wars. Tried Farmville. Maybe tried something else I cannot remember. Stopped playing every single of them. They were no fun (to me). Pretty much the only browser based game I’ve ever played more than “just tested” is Urban Dead (among Werewolf) and here I’m slowly getting to my point.

The reason why I think social games will never replace anything is pretty simple. It’s a different market. The people who play WoW or the people who play fast paced games… or strategy games or any anti-social games will keep doing that.

A quick look on Farmville makes it easy. It’s just not my thing. If I want to play a match of let’s say Left 4 Dead, I don’t seek to use facebook. FB games are not realtime. The people who play hardcore games won’t touch FB games. FB gamers hardly will touch hardcore games.

I believe FB and these social games are expanding the market. Maybe some MUDders will join the fun (since you can have those type of games in Facebook) but I think this is mainly about expanding the market, not replacing it.

And… the few people who play FB games are doing this on their work days, so the only thing Facebook games are replacing is “work time” that turns into “playing time”.

But of course I know shit about this whole non anti-social gaming so take my word as a grain of salt.

As always.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Social games are simply broadening the scope of games, much like the Wii and iPhone have also done successfully over the past few years. Fact is, to keep growing, the game industry MUST look beyond satisfying the small group of core gamers and reach new audiences — this is just another way to do that.

    The only rumblings about social games ‘replacing’ another type of game is from game developers, and/or hardcore game bloggers, who want to protect their territory. While that’s an understandable gut reaction, this attitude is short-sighted and, frankly, disappointing. Game industry types should embrace FarmVille and Mafia Wars, and see them as a gateway, a way to get new people to explore the myriad of other games out there.

  2. I’ve answered “yes” at your poll. I’m playing social games because lately I can’t find 2 hours to play Team Fortress 2, but I can squeeze 5 minutes during lunch break to harvest some crops or dig for some treasures.
    To be honest, this was the situation last month, now I can barely find time to eat, because the deadline for our game is very close.

  3. Direct result: if your reach 100+ total voters, your poll will show the % of *indie game developers* that play social games.

    Indirect result: if “indie game developers generally make games they like to play” is true, then we could see in the % how much of them are working on social games…

  4. Updated my blog post a bit to better make this statement about “replace” and “expand”.

  5. I’m not quite sure if I don’t understand how come it makes the poll meaningless or skewed that I ask this poll from game dev audience. In my opinion it’s simply about “asking from game developers whether they play FB games”. That itself proves nothing… but it does make a point that FB has not replaced our preference of games.

    I do agree that FB expands the market and brings new players on the table.

    It’s (possibly, mainly) other people – new gamers – who come to play those games. FB has not replaced our habits.

    @Mel: not sure which point do you disagree with

    @Jake: Did you read the blog post fully? :)

  6. Ah yes, another quality post on social games on gameproducer.net.

    Everyone in the game industry that works on social games should take heed and listen to this game producer.

    He clearly knows his stuff.

  7. Not “social games”. But online/MMO/microtransaction, yes. Almost all games will be online in few years.
    Just check:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/06/04/company-of-heroes-online-for-us-in-fall/ (CoH doing a MMO with microtransactions!)
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/06/03/defense-grid-fills-june-with-map-packs/ (defense grid map packs for $0.99 each)
    I just hope they don’t think we’re dumb as many people spending $500 on a MMO, when you can buy beaufitul games like L4D for less than $20 and play hours… :)

  8. I play a couple Facebook games. Mainly Castle Age. I don’t really consider them social games. You don’t have much interaction between people, just a bunch of clicking. MMO’s are much more social than any Facebook game I’ve played.

    Out of curiosity, where’d you hear that Facebook games would replace anything? I’ve never heard anyone say that.

  9. I dont think most people who play on FB have even heard of this website so your poll is meaningless.

  10. And a poll on this site is way skewed. Social games haven’t replaced anything, but they’ve EXPANDED the amount of people who now play games. That’s a good thing as they might be future core gamers.

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