Game Development Reference
Interview with Ryan Cleven: Social Platforms—cont'd
games, I get this menu listing “New Game, Load Game, Multiplayer” and
so on, rather than bringing my attention to my friends who have played the
game. Why is it that when I log on to the game, it doesn't say immediately:
“Tim played recently, and he's Level 10, and if you go level up, you can
get past him?” There's very little leveraging of the social network to actu-
ally motivate and encourage people to play with each other or compete with
each other or actually involve each other in game play. Trials HD remains to
date one of the best uses of this in a console game.
Q: Why is that?
A: It is primarily because designers focus so much on a single user's iso-
lated experience with the game, as opposed to looking at the game as part
of a social fabric. Facebook and other social games—their business model
depends on virality. This means that they haven't already gotten their $60
from you. They need you to be playing with your friends and be telling
your friends about the game as much as possible. They need your friends
to buy stuff, because you are not spending any money on the game up
front. The console guys already got $60. Their business model does not
depend on you bringing your friends, but it would definitely enhance the
player experience. You would like to know who else is playing your game.
That way at work, you could have that conversation over a water cooler
about the game you both play. Or you could bring someone back into a
game who might previously have abandoned it. From a longevity point
of view, I think it is a huge feature that people are totally missing. Games
that showcase players' relationships with their friends will create more
energy around their game, and in the long run, better stickiness.
Q: Are there other platforms out there that you see as being similar, in that
they have thus far missed some opportunities to use the social network more
A: I think that the key point of any social graph is how much it actu-
ally impacts the player's lifestyle—their daily life cycle. Just like a com-
pulsion loop inside a game, if you look at the loop of a person's daily
life, how much is the social network affecting their daily lives? If you look
at Twitter, it has a huge effect on people's daily lives, but no games are
effectively using that for anything yet. Facebook affects people's lives tre-
mendously and there are many games using it. There are games that iso-
late themselves to consoles or the iPhone that are not using their spaces
effectively. Some games are totally failing to do this.