Larger social game developers like Zynga and Playdom are gaining more users by the month, so if smaller independent studios want to carve out a niche, they better get a move on, one Facebook dev told Gamasutra in a new feature
When asked for tips for indie social game developers, Joel Auge, owner of MouseHunt
developer HitGrab replied, "I would say hurry, because there's just a tremendous sense that the big guys are coming into the space. I would say, if you're a small indie guy, go after a core audience, be okay about the niche product. Those users will likely pay your bills."
There's currently a gold rush in the social gaming space, and smaller developers stand a greater chance of being squeezed out if they don't enter the market soon and differentiate themselves from the major players. Zynga's FarmVille
has over 80 million monthly active users (MAU) and, late last year, Electronic Arts purchased Playfish for $300 million.
But just because small developers may find themselves in the shadow of FarmVille
doesn't mean they can't make a living or be successful. "I think small developers can definitely carve out a niche," said Justin Hall, former CEO of now-defunct Dictator Wars
and The Nethernet
developer GameLayers. He has a more wary outlook on the social gaming space, as his company ran out of time and money to keep operations going.
There is still potential for social gaming success among smaller game developers, he said: "If you want a small lifestyle business that supports you and one to three people making games, and making some money from that, and working with your player community, you can have a rich, rewarding social game experience on Facebook."
He added, "You need to be very agile, very fast, and thick-skinned... There's huge potential to design a game that works well within the Facebook network, and it has to be about social interactions between players. So that's an exciting challenge."
"Small developers who want more than a lifestyle business, where you're growing a games company and supporting payroll and moving out beyond a group of friends, that is a bigger challenge: you have to keep up with some very smart, very fast-moving competitors," said Hall.