Game Development Reference
a way to play the game itself. (Updates which incorporate user-generated content, for example, are a good op-
Forecasting Unlikely Facebook Gaming
Now it's time to forecast some negative trends that will likely appear in the next year or two.
3D Games on Facebook: Not Likely, Except in a Limited
The growing popularity of Unity (which can now be exported to Flash) and interest in HTML5 has encouraged
some speculation that we'll soon see 3D games and rich graphics in Facebook. It's likely we'll see some ele-
ments of rich 3D graphics integrated into social games in the near future, but it's also just as likely that it will
be a far more limited version of 3D than what most PC and console gamers are accustomed to.
Indeed, Facebook the company is helping drive development of 3D graphics in HTML5.
As of this writing, for example, KIXEYE is working on a 3D Facebook game, which will probably launch
some months after this topic reaches the shelves. However, KIXEYE's Paul Preece warns that 3D games on
Facebook should probably not require users to control the camera or do anything more complicated than simple
view rotation. Adding more 3D features will lengthen the tutorial session, and it's just not feasible to expect
Facebook players to spend 30 minutes learning how to play such a game.
Despite this, Preece believes it's likely that large game developers will attempt to deploy more 3D games in
Facebook because they are accustomed to working with such graphics. However, “[T]he size of the playing pop-
ulation, even on consoles, who know how to control an FPS camera is small.” This isn't to say there will never
be 3D games on Facebook. Preece notes that Zynga trained its users to play strategy games with its Empires &
Allies, which familiarized a large audience with the genre (including those made by KIXEYE). Consequently,
he believes there may be a market for FPS shooter-type 3D games on Facebook. For now, however, “If I create
an FPS game on Facebook, I'm going to be pissing off almost everyone attempting to play it.”
With the biggest Facebook games still resolutely 2D, 5th Planet's Robert Winkler is also not convinced that
3D graphics will work in the social network, in great part because they're usually played by people while they're
at work, who can't afford the extra time commitment—or worse, unwanted attention from the boss.
As evidence of this trend, consider the early status of Gaikai on Facebook (see Figure 6-2 ). In April 2012,
the company launched an open beta of its cloud deployment technology, which streams AAA, high-quality 3D
games directly to Facebook, so they can be played by anyone on the social network, whether or not their com-
puter has 3D graphics hardware. However, as of this writing (Summer 2012), the service was attracting just
9,000 monthly users. This may change in the future, but for now, it's another indication that the market for 3D
games on Facebook is small.