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Who's Afraid Of Facebook?
by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 03/31/10 01:50:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

"Shallow cheap games make loads of money. How is this possible? I hate these ppl"

Which is probably what established movie distributors said some time back too for game developers. This is game development at its best! Back to the roots! 

Bare with me i am known to write long posts. But it is only because i like to tell stories. Well i am blabbering a bit too but be patient. :) 

It seems that even publishers believe so and while most are not showing it they already started preparing (although a bit delayed) for the "future".  EA made the right move. They bought the entry ticket to the future. Good job. 

Well it's easy to figure out why this is happening ..most people work a lot and they are in a constant routine. They want to get lazy and they're bored to bother with navigation.. they just want to play the game in autopilot. Nintendo had seen it ;) you know..."autoplay" feature! Thank you Iwata San  you helped me form my idea! the rest "the serious gamers" were of course laughing.. Who the hell would want that muhahahaha.. Publishers were thinking "well casual are... you know, casual; why openup to an almost indifferent audience?  Hardcore users pay money!"

 I so want to laugh in the face of those who were foretelling the death of PC gaming and the advent of HD console gaming :) Sorry but it is true. Wii was selling like crazy while everyone was busy rolling on the floor so much with "that funny named console with low end graphics and that stupid remote control" that they almost didn’t see it happening. Hey, you missed 1-2 development cycles there remember ???   And now.. facebook... the final insult to megagame corporations and “hard core gamers”  casual users pay more money to play non games and small companies out of nowhere are rising fast. (2012 edit: and falling fast too) 

 But enough with the sarcasm.. There is not enough money around and I know there are many pissed people out there right now so i don't want to  piss them off more :) Let me take things from the start. In my country we have a saying, which translates to something similar to this “cheap things get all the money” no?  take the example of the straw.. or the cocktail umbrella guy! Or ask certain companies why they sell their games in Asia lower than in Europe and US and they still make good money!

I knew that minesweeper and spider, chess and backgammonwere actually the most popular games out there. It makes perfect sense too. Was it my kind of computer game? Not really.

That notion was first instilled to me when i enjoyed my first  cup of coffee while my game was in autopilot ;) Dungeon Siege i am looking at you now!  

"Why the hell should i always bust my behind to finish that level? This is not my job... I’m doing this for fun! And no I do not want to pause it!!!  I'd love to kickback and relax a bit while the game unfolds in a passive way" i thought...but not many games found that to be a good idea i guess... then some years later.. did the same while waiting for my mount to reach darnassus ... Could that be true? Why do they have us flying so long? I wondered...

We all hated them long flights initially... don’t get me wrong.. I played non-stop dragon age for 5 days while being ill at the same time.. I took a couple of days break and then played again with some other character and another and another..  : ) So I do play like a maniac too. I have not been converted. I just appreciate chilling out and helping my friends with their farm as well and enjoy a game with them no matter how simple. And I still go for “raids” with them  in castle age :)After all, it’s all about playing with friends right?

So after I started having my cup while flying after a tiresome day filled with raids, or efforts to raid.. (hehe come on you all MMOplayers have been there) i realized it was actually good! :)  I had an excuse why i couldn't keep fighting all day long. I was on flight. Sometimes i would even do it on purpose! yes! That is when it all started coming together but at that time what I had in mind was not possible. Especially when Nintendo started talking about its autoplay feature some years ago I was sure that this is the way to go. Nooooo I do not mean the autoplay way.  Other direction (hint hint, hardcore is good remember?) 

And back to the scare of the last GDC. Is there a war breaking out between the established republic and the rebels? Is there an emperor? Is the designer dead? Hell no!!! They have you think that way so by the time they reach at your level taking the same route you did some years ago you will be out of the game! doh..

They are still doing design in there. In fact they are copying and simplifying your paradigm! They know what you did wrong while growing. They are fed up with all the times you were keeping them waiting for a screenshot… yep these are the generation of gamers that  were stalking the forums for their favorite games, some times for months or worst years and they believed and bled in the forums for games that they had not even seen. Good thing is many times you delivered. Now they follow metrics and take fans into serious consideration. And they have the advantage that they can educate a huge chunk of the market from zero. GOOD. It is very healthy. As healthy as Wii was for gaming. Don’t fight back! Embrace.

Of course they are going to make MMOs. Only now they are penetrating and educating the market like many of you did back in the days!  Only today the situation is much better. You do not have to convince anyone to buy a console and the graphics are better. ;) 

 See.. i am not cursing facebook and casual games..in fact this for me is a prophecy being fulfilled, it is my dream finally being so close to becoming a reality!  Why, because in my heart I am a gamer first and foremost and then a developer!  I never made loads of money from it, I never bought a car or expensive vacations.. and I even came all the way  to the other side of the world to make it happen. Something many have forgotten on their way here i guess. All these years this was my dream, a day where people will play all together and anyway they want. Their own pace. The day that I would be able to play with my friends who were not really inclined to grab a controller or memorize all these spells.

The time has come for my vision to become reality. 

I was thinking of a "world" where all games would be accessible simultaneously with one account. What everyone did with the avatars was nice. But so limited in scope... Diegetic Interfaces are part of what i am talking about. I am talking about a game nexus where you are always your avatar.

Yes there is a story, or maybe some times there isn't and all you need to do is just click and send some gifts or simply watch others fight the dragons, follow your favorite warrior or mage to a raid like you spectate when you are dead in FPS. Make him a true hero. (Sony almost did it and it is quite successful too..but again.. not quite..they got something wrong in there) the point is you are a gamer who likes to play all sorts of games and you like to play with your friends and sometimes even random people out there if your parents allow!

See in this world there can be full parental control and no children will play the gory game. But still…they will play. For free?  Well not quite. Microtransactions and free to play is the way to go. These "facebook guys" are educating the masses. It's good for you too!!! Do not fight. Embrace!

Do you see where i am getting at? I already said too much so i guess you do! What do you think I am trying to say?

I'll continue if I see that at least some people are interested.  Even if nobody is interested.. I will still have that blog as proof to say “I told you so!”  :)


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Comments


William Leader
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Two things:



First, as an Indy developers I am afraid of Facebook because of the potential for its users to quickly overload my ability to handle them. Being able to 'Go Viral' is supposed to be an advantage, but because I am so small, I see it as a threat.



Second, I don't like how many popular FB games are popular just because they are on FB. The games from a design perspective aren't that interesting and I suspect if it was not for the ability to get free advertising by encouraging players to post the game repeatedly to the FB news feed the games would not actually be word-of-mouth recommended as often as they are. I see the viral nature of FB as a crutch that supports games that would not survive on any other platform.



However despite these concerns, I don't think FB games are going to go away, but I do think we have yet to see how good they can be.

Nick Halme
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I don't think anyone is afraid. Afraid of what? I think people that work on "traditional" games on "traditional" platforms just don't throw respect around. Especially not at the sight of money alone. They might be a bit rude, but you can't blame people for not respecting rudimentary game design in an area where platform integration is still the focus.



Facebook is an interesting place, and it might have an interesting future. Right now it's a place that resembles the old Flash portals, only there is lots of money being made. Some people are loathe of this, and perhaps more so because of the snarkiness of Facebook developers (such as the Zynga guy really saying something similar in his GDC award "speech").


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