Speaking about his company's strategy for releasing games onto Facebook, Monumental Games' CEO Rik Alexander has said that 18 months from now there will be more veteran gamers on Facebook than ever.
"I think in 18 months time Facebook is going to have more veteran gamers. Although they probably don't realise it, they're becoming better at games - playing Farmville teaches you certain things about gaming," Alexander told GamesIndustry.biz. "Over time they'll be thinking 'I don't want that any more because it's boring, what I want to be able to do is compete with other players and beat them in other ways.'"
As such, Monumental has revealed that its first MMO for the social networking site will be one that can evolve depending on what proves popular with its players.
The game itself will take place in a playground world, said Alexander, and the games players can take part in within it will be based on ones they're already familiar with - like hide and seek, and tag.
"Our Facebook strategy is simple - over two years we're going to release 4-6 games and we're going to use KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] to track the first one, put themes out, keep evolving it and track the KPIs to see what everybody likes," he explained. "So very Playfish, very Zynga - they made some money to start with, but they didn't make the big money until 18 months in when they just looked at all the KPIs, looked at what people wanted and then went for the big one and now have about 80 million users in Farmville.
"We're kind of coming in at the second phase. The first phase, the 2D stuff, is going very well, and we're coming in with 3D social games, proper ones where you can interact with your friends in a 3D environment and do all this stuff you already know."
"You look at World of Warcraft and people see it as a mass market MMO, but when it comes down to it it really isn't," added Monumental's COO, Paul Mayze. "It's still a hardcore MMO, it's just quite an accessible one.
"When it comes down to it 13 million is absolutely bloody fantastic but it's still only a fraction of the number of players that are playing Farmville. So we're thinking, if we're going to plug something into Facebook, we're talking proper mass market here. MMOs are for hardcore players - how's that going to feel to a Facebook user? Then we realised there's no reason why MMOs should be for the hardcore. There's no obligation to have quests and grinding and all the things we tend to associate with MMOs."
Alexander and Mayze also say that EA reacted "exactly the right way" to the growth in social gaming by buying Playfish at the end of last year.
"It's difficult for big publishers to move dynamically into spaces that are quickly growing and changing. EA have huge infrastructure costs, so doing anything costs them £10m - as soon as they set up the team for a year it's £10m. You'd end up spending that on your first Facebook game, you'd never make any money back, at which point you'd stop making Facebook games. It's just a different business than they're used to," said Alexander.
Our full interview with Monumental, in which its execs further discuss the company's plans for Facebook, a console MMO and Sony's motion controller can be found here.