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Acceptance of social gaming is growing amongst designers

"It's not a bubble, it's not a fad. It's a completely valid market," says Ravenwood Fair co-creator

The acceptance of social games as legitimate experiences, businesses and creative entertainment is growing amongst the development community, according to Loot Drop co-founder and veteran Brenda Brathwaite.

At GDC earlier this month Brathwaite's rant addressed the misconception that social games are 'evil' and that titles like FarmVille and her own Ravenwood Fair are designed to strip players of money first, with a token game experience bolted on.

"We're not too far past the peak of that mentality," Brathwaite told in an interview published today. "I hear from a lot of people who say things like 'I told people I went to work in social games and they seem disgusted, go work at a real game company.' I feel like we're past the peak of that sentiment, for a couple of reasons.

What are you going in with? Are you going in fun first or are you going in with 'let's take this for as much money as possible'?

Brenda Brathwaite, Loot Drop.

"People understand that these type of games are here to stay. It's not a bubble, it's not a fad. The 100 million gamers that have been woken up that like a more casual style of play are not going anywhere. That audience is growing, it's becoming more sophisticated, it's wanting to move into more deeper game experiences."

Braithwaite, who has worked on hardcore PC and console titles and at Loot Drop is creating a new social game to be published by RockYou, added that it's not always easy to see the attraction of new gaming experiences.

"With the traditional games industry it can be hard to see and appreciate games that we ourselves would not play. There's this whole range of very light-touch games that are played for 10-20 minutes at a time, and because that's not the type of gaming experience you're used to - you're used to destination games where you literally sit in a chair for three or four hours - so a Reader's Digest version of a game may seem trivial to you, or silly to you and not enjoyable in the way that knitting feels trivial or annoying to some people.

"But it's a completely valid market," she insisted. "People in the industry are seeing Facebook as a platform like we see the PlayStation 3 or the PC as a platform. They all have a particular audience and the demographic tends to like a specific type of game more predominantly than others. By looking at it as a platform and not judging the whole thing just based on a few games or a subset of mechanics that you deem unacceptable for whatever reason, I think traditional developers are coming around to the opportunities of Facebook."

And as more traditional game developers move into the social space, the perception that companies are thinking of money making schemes before gameplay and fun should also be turned on its head, according to Brathwaite.

"What are you going in with? Are you going in fun first or are you going in with 'let's take this for as much money as possible' first? We are our players. I've never really been capable of developing a game with anything other than fun first because that's what I've always driven towards - I want the game to be fun and compelling," she added.

"But there are certainly others who the fun factor is not the first consideration. I find that sad. And I think with the ever-growing ranks of game industry people coming into this space that's changing."

The full interview with Brathwaite, where she also discusses Saturo Iwata's take on mobile and social gaming, and the 'talent acquisition battle', can be read here.

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Latest comments (3)

Michael Bennett Jack of all trades, master of some. 10 years ago
Perhaps Dragon Age Legends will give Facebook games a bit of legitimacy in the more conservative development circles. It's certainly had a lot of positive press on IGN...
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Private Industry 10 years ago
Here to stay doesn`t mean the market or at least some companies can`t crash. I would just be very cautious with that market especially with acquisitions, EA payed around 400 million for Playfish while BioWare and Pandemic together cost them "only" 775 million with the later one not being such a good deal and the rumored price for Criterion was a tiny 50 million. Zynga is assumed to have a value of 10 billion and I fail to see where they would be worth so much. I just have the feeling many of those facebook companies are overpriced and not worth so much compared to how much profit they can bring back and what they do. Sure it`s a lot cheaper to just create a studio for those types of games instead of paying 400 million for a company that makes facebook games.
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"People understand that these type of games are here to stay. It's not a bubble, it's not a fad"

Adding onto Werner's sentiments, I believe this phrase is a misnomer.

1/ Social games will evolve into a steady state market. It will have its hits and loses. One hopes poorer titles will die a natural death due to natural selection

2/ Social game companies acquired for silly amounts of monies are definitely overpriced (I feel by 200-400%), and in this regard, its a bubble waiting to burst. Naturally, such companies will think of diversifying ...and quickly. I also feel facebook games will eventually reach their peak plateau. Afterall, there is only so much formulaic farming/spamming of in game credits/FB games. In addition, with the changes in FB privacy controls there might be a harsh reduction of interaction/personal information due to the overtly strong big brother attitude.

3/ FB games market share would naturally shift somewhat into web browser games. I think this is where the main market will evolve whereby, it is platform agnostic. Powered by the early efforts of multiplatform engines. It is just a matter of time to evolve.

Ultimately, I think the various markets of Social, Casual, Core will find their own level across a variety of media - Smartphones, tablets, Portable handhelds, PC & Consoles. Sure, the marketshare will ebb and flow, but the bottom line is ....None will die - despite what self professed sooth sayers are drumming.

This seems to be the natural logical conclusion.

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