Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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Source: With the luster of social games gone, what now?
Author: Leigh Alexander
Site: Gamasutra

I've never played a Facebook game, and I'm kind of proud of that considering the general reputation of the platform. Granted, I stopped using Facebook before there were even games to play, some 6-7 years ago, so it was as much an aversion to Facebook in general as it was the trashy games being developed for it. Leigh Alexander has written up a great recap of the social games industries rise and, well, not necessarily a fall, but a sort of leveling. The perspective on the Facebook games platform and the games made for it is pretty damning, all told. A gold rush mentality set in place standards for doing business that then hamstrung progressive design ideas in favor of innovative revenue streams. A stereotyped stay-at-home mom target demographic that pushed developers to make games that they didn't enjoy making. A constantly shifting development platform that is near impossible for a small studio to keep up with resulting in unoptimized or broken games. The result of all this is a horribly tarnished reputation for "social games," a term that, taken literally, has a whole lot of appeal.

Alexander's article is titled with a question, "what now?" which isn't so much answered as it is exemplified in the text that follows. The designers that were interviewed range from apathetic, to disappointed, to downright hateful toward the Facebook platform and flailing social games giant Zynga. It's not that people don't seem to have interesting ideas for using a social network like Facebook as the grounds for game systems, but the waters also seem so toxic these days, that it's difficult to convince small upstarts to do so. I can't even tell Facebook games apart from one another, which seems to be equal parts copycat design and purposeful market confusion (one of the worst traits to be passed on to the mobile sector). So, we return to the question, "what now?" Well, the resounding answer from developers in the article seems to be "just leave it to rot."

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