Three good blog posts recently about games on Facebook.
Brian Green talks to a developer with two games, one casual and one hardcore, and based on that concludes that hardcore games do better:
I suspect the reason is because people still enjoy a good game, even if it has “hardcore” aspects like direct, zero-sum competition. Even though the party game was less confrontational, it probably didn’t include as many engaging elements as the first game. So, more people played and stuck with the game.
What he is really saying though seems to be that good games are better than bad games. Matt Mihaly checks the list of Facebook games with most daily users and finds that the top ten are all casual games, and notes that:
…good games on FB are as much about communication and/or self-expression as they are about gameplay.
I completely agree. As Matt notes in his post, there have been two paths to success for Facebook games. One has been to build lightweight “proto-games” that spread virally on the back of self expression or communicaiton. The other has been to build true games with complex and engaging game dynamics. These games do not grow as rapidly, but they do draw much higher daily engagement rates.
Nabeel Hyatt extends the analysis to compare multiplayer games to singleplayer games on Facebook.
He finds that:
Multiplayer social games such as Warbook and Scrabulous average 11.4% active daily users, a good 30% higher than the average top Facebook app (8.01%). I’m sure if we could actually get engagement, attention, and retention metrics we’d see the same trend. This combined with the relatively high percentage of games represented in the top 25 applications (7 games) would suggest that there is simply a lack of quality, socially-focused games on Facebook.
I wholeheartedly agree with Matt and Nabeel. I think that over the next few months there will be a number of exciting social, multiplayer casual games with good gameplay dynamics built on Facebook and the other social networks as they open up. Teams comprising of experienced game designers and experienced social media/viral marketing experts will be best positioned to create these games. I am actively interested in hearing from such teams.