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THQ: Marketing Facebook games "is just building Facebook"

Standalone social games may be better business for publishers, claims online VP

THQ's vice president of Online Publishing and Operations has suggested that marketing Facebook games in the post-viral age may not be to publishers' benefit.

"If you're going to spend money on a [social] game, marketing is now the big driver to success," Mike Hodges told GamesIndustry.biz ahead of today's announcement that THQ was preparing to move into social gaming with the help of Joyent.

"I don't know that you really want to spend it marketing on Facebook, because then you're really just building Facebook.

"It seems like another way of looking at it would be to have these games that aren't necessarily tied to Facebook, or maybe they use Facebook Connect instead or something like that.

"Then the marketing dollar that you spend, you can actually use to build your own business and not somebody else's."

Hogan also felt that, though potentially lucrative, Facebook Credits were not the sole option for monetising social games. "They're real, they're out there, people are using them it'd foolish to not at least consider using them. But I don't think it's the only way.

"It's really just a form of payment, right, so you have to offer to the consumer multiple payment methods so that it's easy for them to spend money. And Facebook Credits is just one way of doing that."

The VP also argued that social games did not necessarily need to be money-spinners in themselves, but instead could be used to drive brands.

"There's a couple of reasons why you might do a Facebook game, and one is to have it stand alone and be profitable and generate revenue, and another one is to have it complement a game that's already out there.

"So a Facebook game could easily be just a marketing tool as well. Quite likely it's going to be some combination of revenue producing venture and something's that going to try to build brand awareness and bring people into... the core game."

Hogan admitted that breaking the Zynga-Playdom-Playfish chokehold on social games made entering that sector "a little bit more of a challenge," but again felt that a marketing-based approach may be key to success.

For the full interview with Mike Hogan, in which he discusses the new partnership with Joyent, how important social gaming is to THQ's broader business and whether there's room for innovation in Facebook titles, click here.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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