Game Development Reference
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
Q: What are up and coming social or mobile games that you think people
should keep an eye on?
A: Most of the things I think are indie and interesting are outside of the
Facebook market right now. I sense a wave of innovation coming into
Facebook soon. There's definitely some stuff inside of Zynga that I'm defi-
nitely very interested in. Obviously, I'm biased towards my own project.
I think we're gonna be making a big splash here shortly. It'll be quite a bit
different than anything else out there.
I think Facebook is a double-edged blade. Games on Facebook feel like
they're back in the 1990s. There's massive room for innovation there.
People could take games in lots of directions, but everybody seems to be
scared to. And they're all rehashing the fifth iteration of FarmVille , or the
thirteenth iteration of Mafia Wars or cloning and not really innovating,
because that's kind of the safe path.
I think those days are going to slowly end. I think there's only so many
plow, plant, and harvest games you can create before nobody wants to
play those anymore. And we've definitely seen the death of the X-Wars
model over the years, because once you've played one of those things you
sure don't want to play ten more.
So I definitely see some new innovation; people are trying to take this
stuff and look at it in new and exciting ways. We're nothing like con-
sole games, where things feel so stagnant. It's the fourteenth version of
Madden , and EA likes to ship hit after hit, which are carbon copies of the
previous ones with one more thing tacked on. Social games in general:
the sky is the limit.
And we're just starting to see some of those innovative titles. Like
Army Attack , and little turn-based strategy games that are kind of break-
ing out of the traditional mold.
Q: Any other thoughts to offer people on the future of social game design?
A: One of the things that really attracted me to this space, and one of
the things that is close to my heart—the Holy Grail here—is to merge
MMOs and the social graph in a very complete way. Right now, there's
nothing like a real MMO on Facebook. I've seen a few MMOs that you
can play in browser plug-ins, but that doesn't count. It's kind of like tak-
ing the best of what we think of as modern super-polished Facebook
games, and merging it with games that give players a real presence, create