Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Beyond the simple gross numbers of their users, social networks represent
a relatively egalitarian cross-section of humanity . These user bases cut across
gender and cultural divides and include members in almost every age group
and education level. Put succinctly, social networks represent a mass market in
the truest sense of the phrase.
Astute developers may have noticed that although we talked a bit about con-
sole games and gaming in this volume, console online service networks were
listed fairly low in our hierarchy of social networks. It's not that they aren't
“cool,” or that they aren't important, it's just that they generally aren't impor-
tant enough in terms of user population to financially compete with the big-
ger sites. Indeed, Zynga has completely eschewed console development. Zynga
designer Brian Reynolds says:
We're after a lot of demographic. If I explain what we think is the core
magic of social, I think that will explain the relative attraction, or the lens
through which we view the relative attraction of different platforms. The
thing that seems to make social gaming and networking magical is the fact
that all my friends are potentially there and they might see the things that
I'm posting or doing or expressing. . . .
[Xbox Live's] too small a demographic. Think about, of my friends, how
many of them own an Xbox 360? Well, I'm a game developer and I even come
from a triple-A space so we might even be in the double digits.... Twenty or
maybe even thirty percent of my friends might have an Xbox 360, but effec-
tively 100 percent of them have Facebook and effectively 100 percent of them
have a mobile phone. Of them, probably 90 percent have a smartphone.
So when you think about the social potential of a platform … if we
made a game on Xbox Live, I think—forgetting about the fact that I
might have an artificially high percentage of friends that do it because of
what my profession is—the number of anyone's friends that [are] going
to be able to participate in the social experience is going to be a very
small number, so the amount of social capital that there is isn't going
to be very high. That's why right now we're on Facebook for sure, and
mobile is the obvious next place for us to go because it is an inherently
social platform. I mean, we've got to be on several different kinds of plat-
forms, but especially if we can figure out a way to have people socialize
cross-platform. Then, hey, we're helping with the problem. We're helping
people socialize that wouldn't be able to. 9
Instead, like most social game developers, Zynga has chosen to focus on
Facebook. Let's look at some of their user demographics in a bit greater detail:
l Facebook currently lists 629,982 million users and is growing every day.
It's likely that a few hundred new souls have joined since I began typing
this sentence.
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