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Bossa: Social games "will be like the Atari Eighties crash"

Copycat tactics frustrate Monstermind developer

Bossa head and co-founder Henrique Olifiers has shared his frustrations at the iterative nature of social game design, and warned of the consequences.

"Social games for me were always on the cutting-edge until they became copycat, and after they became copycat I said, 'Well, this is not going anywhere,'" he told GamesIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview.

"This will be like the Atari Eighties crash. Everybody and their grandmother had a version of Space Invaders, and these guys are going to do the same thing."

He fears that these tactics will mean more innovative games and ideas will get lost amid Facebook's casual noise.

"What I used to do at both Jagex and Playfish, they both felt like they were doing something different," he continued.

"Jagex was one of the first companies in browser MMOs. Playfish was one of the first companies to go into social games. They were leading the charge. What got me so disenchanted over time was that they stopped doing that. "That's when I said, 'This is not what I'm about.' "

Bossa Studios was founded in 2010 and created its first title, the RTS Monstermind, with more hardcore gamers in mind and in a concerted attempted to avoid the copying and churning culture of standard Facebook development.

"[Our games] should look and feel like nothing else on Facebook," explained lead designer Mike Bithell.

"We're working really hard top use these amazing tools, because there are so many things in Facebook that, if used right, make it better than Xbox Live."

To read more about the Bossa team's refreshing stance on social gaming, its recent hires and how it hopes to attract the hardcore gamers to Facebook, check out the full feature.

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Latest comments (14)

Couldnt be more right. Slowdown of the activity on facebook, which is quite apparent, will not help this either though. I think alot of the younger kids (and adults) who were introduced to social games via these types of platforms will seek out higher quality entertainment and look to do something more engaging and specific with their time as they get older. Im totally confident that day will come and the market we call "the core" will become the norm for many many more customers.
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Ivan Garde Product Manager, wooga GmbH4 years ago
I like the mindset that Bossa is following, there are all kind of people hooked up in social networks but they were taught since the early "age of Social Games" that every game experience in facebook is, at its best, a cityville. I do hope that all those players who started with Zynga and Playdom games will look for better crafted experiences.
My main concern is that, for what I see, facebook is not a level playing field, and the scales are still tilted toward big guys like Zynga and Playfish who are still revolving around the same formulas. I don't think that app discovery mechanisms in facebook are helping anyone trying something differen right now, and this is the biggest challenge to make this transition from the farmvilles to the new core facebook games.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
I've been saying a crash is looming because of the over investment taking place. It's felt like NASDAQ in the late 90's all over again.
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Show all comments (14)
GameViewPoint Game Developer 4 years ago
I couldn't dissagree more. There are lots of differences between the Atari games of the 80s and social games now, one of which is that social games are usually built and expanded by way of data from the actual players, where was that in the 80s? Meaning that people in the 80s didn't really understand why a game was successful other than it was "addictive", obviously now developers have a deeper understanding of what and why something works. Equally, games in the 80s mostly appealed to a particular audience, i.e young guys, where as social games are almost the oposite and have a much broader appeal. I agree that many social games will fail, but that's because they will just be eclipsed by developers who do the same thing, but better and not because suddenly everyone loses interest in the proven game mechanics that these types of games have.
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Neil Alphonso Lead Designer, Splash Damage Ltd4 years ago
But if your statements aren't well over the top, how do you expect to get any press? Par for the course these days.
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Paul Baker Game Designer, Ubisoft4 years ago
It`s bubble inflated by a new metric, eyes on product. It`s reminds meof the dot com bubble - potential for profit is mistaken for value.
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Ove Larsen4 years ago
Sure!
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Well... at least Fumito Ueda seems to have gone to do something more worthwile than something-ville.
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Another "chicken little" warning. And where is the equivalent of the landfill where Atari dumped all of those ET cassetts?
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.4 years ago
Grant, it's more akin to the NASDAQ crash than Atari.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 4 years ago
Not to be a bore or something but how can they talk about copycats if their own game isn't original at all, it's also just a copycat game from some other games, nothing new, nothing special..
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Bruno Patatas Senior Game Designer, Outplay Entertainment4 years ago
"Social games for me were always on the cutting-edge until they became copycat, and after they became copycat..."

I could easily replace this with:
"AAA games for me were always on the cutting-edge until they became copycat, and after they became copycat..."

But yeah, talking like this against social games is sure bet for big press headlines...
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From a design perspective, yes.Nluckily there are still user segments which are not addressed by Zynga and similar companies.
From a business perspective these social games still earn 3-5 times as much as they would have done if they were sold seperatly. (from what I read about Lessons Learned from the MMO and iOS market)

Social games as we know them will and should of cause evolve, and new innovative games will find their at to market. But the business model itself is still young and has many year to live still.
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Roberto Dillon Associate Professor, James Cook University4 years ago
@Grant Stanton: this time they will be dumped in the... cloud ;)
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