Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
nonprofits, and the like have been known to favor Ning. At its heart, Ning
is more of a platform for creating highly interactive websites than a true
social network. Ning offers game aggregator integration ability from sites
like MindJolt and Heyzap. Developers should consider Ning something
more akin to a toolset and hosting service than a “traditional” social net-
work for publishing games. Realizing your vision or porting your product
to Ning will require a custom implementation, as well as some clever plan-
ning around how you position your product.
#7: Steam Valve Software's Half Life revolutionized the PC first-person shooter
in 1998, combining thoughtful gameplay with a terrific science fiction story-
line. Counter-Strike followed, arguably the most successful game “mod” of all
time. (A “mod” is a reskinned version of a game that alters some gameplay
mechanics and visuals in order to create a new experience.) As Valve looked to
update these products with patches and fixes, they faced the interesting prob-
lem of how to update software that millions of players were already using. The
conceptual framework for Steam was born, and over the subsequent 15 years,
the service has grown into a full-fledged digital distribution platform for games
and media as well as a social network in its own right. Steam allows users to
communicate about the games they are playing, and even buy and gift games
to their friends. Steam currently has over 30 million users, all of which could
safely be described as approaching “hardcore” gamer status. It has been esti-
mated that Steam controls as much as 70 percent of the digital distribution mar-
ket for non-browser-based PC games.
#8: Tagged claims more than 25 million regular users and is definitely one to
watch. With a strong focus on social games and an aggressive presence outside
of North America, Tagged also has managed to maintain a growth trend despite
the rise of Facebook. In 2011, Tagged's gaming division was led by Andrew
Pedersen, a former exec at EA's casual Pogo division. In addition to allowing
games by other developers (like Zynga), Tagged focuses on in-house developed
games, a strategy that makes them unusual among social gaming sites.
Tagged also has been subject to numerous legal problems associated with
their practices of “scraping” and “spamming,” and their slow-to-respond
reaction to reports of online trading of child pornography on the network. In
2010, New York State's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spoke out against
Tagged for the second time in his career. Some conservative countries have
even banned Tagged over similar issues.
#9: hi5 is a popular social gaming site led by game industry veteran Alex
St. John. The site boasts 26 million unique users per month, though this
number has declined slightly in the last few quarters. hi5 features an avatar
system similar to Wii or XBLA, in which users can customize a represen-
tation of themselves for use on the network. In addition, they offer simple
Flash games and some of the latest social games by groups like Digital
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