Game Development Reference
Up until now, cross-platform play between Facebook games and smartphones has been infrequent. Zynga's Texas HoldEm Poker had been a
rare popular exception.
Unlike most games that have come before it, Draw Something does something different with the cross-plat-
form concept—most of the game experience is staged within the iOS/Android environment, whereas Facebook
is mainly used as a connectivity, communication, and sharing method. This is an extremely promising use of the
Facebook platform, because it makes sharing frictionless and automatically networked. We will probably see
even more of this with the Fall 2012 release of iOS 6, which deeply integrates Facebook sharing and connectiv-
ity with iOS, including with Apple's Game Center, the company's social gaming network.
Speaking of sharing, this trend dovetails into another likely market move.
Shareable User-Generated Content (UGC)
As previously discussed, the use of Facebook wall updates for games is a common tactic to increase virality.
However, it's long ago become too viral , primarily because game updates in themselves are not directly relevant
or interesting to other Facebook users (even other players). However, user-generated and customized content
is more likely to be relevant to a player's friends. This is one of the other keys to Draw Something's suc-
cess—shared as Facebook updates, Draw Something doodles are user-created, unique, and reflect the user's
personality and talent in an accessible way. This makes them ideal for Facebook's social architecture. What's
more, because the drawings are user-generated, it's also an inexhaustible resource for new content.
In the negative, spammy sense.
Nabeel Hyatt, a venture capitalist whose firm, Spark Capital, backed Draw Something, echoes this point,
noting that OMGPOP's game also gained a lot of growth through the uploading of doodles on Twitter and In-
stagram, even before the game had a sharing mechanism. As Hyatt puts it, “People have pride in the drawings
CROSSREF You can learn more about Nabeel Hyatt in Chapter 15, “Is Your Game Ready to Get VC or
Hyatt then went on to make a crucial distinction about user-generated content that designers should note:
“What you want is a set of things that people would want to share”—for instance, drawings of Lady Gaga
versus hamburgers. In other words, it's not enough to leverage user-generated content—the UGC should also
have broad appeal.
The End of Updates as a Viral Channel—and Rise as a
Spark Capital's Nabeel Hyatt sees the waning of Facebook updates and requests as a viral growth channel. In-
stead, they'll become more important for maintaining user engagement. “When you get a request, that's a re-
minder to play the game,” he says. Hyatt advises developers to think about ways to bring customers back with
updates—in other words, sending and receiving those messages should be part of the value and fun of the game.
A savvy developer, he suggested, could innovate ways to design a game whereby those channels are used as