Today we announced a $4m investment in Serious Business. Their social game, Friends For Sale, has become a top ten app on Facebook since it launched in November. I am very excited about working with Siqi and Alex and the rest of the team.
While there are a lot of games on the social network platforms now, many have game mechanics that have been ported from another medium. I think Siqi and Alex have developed the first game dynamic that is native to social networks. As I’ve mentioned before, social games differ from merely multiplayer games in that social context has an impact on the game play and enjoyment. I believe that the Serious Business team has a deep understanding of how to create these social games, and we’ll see more such games coming from them in the future.
Venturebeat has a good description of the first game:
Here’s how it works. You join Friends For Sale and receive a starter war chest of several thousand dollars of the company’s virtual currency, as well as a valuation of how much you’re worth. Then you see a list of all your Facebook friends who have added the application, along with their selling price, and you can start buying them up. Price is determined like in any market, by bidders — so if you’re competing against others to buy a particular friend, you’ll have to keep raising your bid in order to maintain ownership.
When you sell a friend, you get to keep half the profit. The other half goes to the person getting bought. You can also make money by doing things like inviting more friends to the application. You earn $2,000 for every four hours that you’re logged in, and $1,000 for every friend you invite. And when somebody buys you, your value increases.
What’s the point of owning a friend, besides making virtual money on their eventual sale? Well, you can buy them gifts, or you can use them to “poke” other friends.
So really, this game is a mask for deeper social intentions. Let’s say you’re a high school student and you want to show a classmate that you have a romantic interest them — buy them and give them a gift on Friends For Sale. Or lets say you want to attract the interest of a prominent entrepreneur and angel investor like early Googler Georges Harik. Buy him, if you can afford it: He’s my most expensive Facebook friend, worth more than half a million dollars in the app’s virtual currency (pictured, above; thankfully, he’s already an investor in VentureBeat).