The Social Connection

Human beings are undeniably social creatures. Gamers are, too. So the gaming landscape is beginning to look very interesting as platforms become increasingly connected, and social networks become increasingly open. For example, Facebook Connect has opened up an API for the iPhone. The iPhone happens to also be seeing quite a bit of success with games. The two are already merging in some initial game efforts, but the growth potential is huge.


One example is "Friend Freak,"   a quiz game that uses content on the profiles of your social Web to generate the quiz content. The game may list a few favorite movies, and then show the profile pictures of four friends, asking a user to choose the friend with the favorite flicks.

Deeper than purely social games, larger titles are building in social interactions. EA's upcoming "The Sims 3" has a number of more social integrations, including built-in video and picture creation tools, and syndication options for integrating with and embedding in social networks. In addition to this, EA will be building out its own game-related social network around the play experience.

Smaller, indie initiatives are even attracting bigger game talent. Three Diablo III developers just left Blizzard to work at the company  Booyah!, and are working on a new "entertainment product" (note, not a "game") for the iPhone that revolves around integration with the user's life. No concrete details yet, but it certainly looks like they are looking to dig a bit deeper than the tip of the iceberg.

The expansion of gaming from a niche activity to something of mass appeal is going hand in hand with the development and integration of social elements. For users, this is going to revolutionize the concept of "play," perhaps even hark back to the older "playground" mentality. For marketers, this integration is going to enable conversational marketing in and around that recreational activity. Personally, I just wonder to what extent this trend is only relevant for Western games -- and how/if it will affect the market for Asian development studios.

2 comments about "The Social Connection".
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  1. Chris Lorenzoni from Velti, May 1, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.

    very cool article Josh, i might have to check out frienddreak!

  2. Jim Myrick from NetToons, Inc., May 1, 2009 at 3:35 p.m.

    You are on to something. We are experiencing very exciting traffic and user behavior with our casual online animation game where fans become brand ambassadors. These fans end up publishing the Emily the Strange property to their faceBook pages with their own animations. The social sharing aspect seems to be a big driver in the site traffic. We have fans who come to the site 100 times a month and some spend over 30 minutes per session making and sharing their cartoon creations. BYW Our site traffic is 90% female.

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