Who hasn’t heard about ‘Draw Something’ yet? It is the game which is dominating the social graphs and app stores these days. This simple game is growing phenomenally. It took 9 months for Facebook to get to 1 million users, it took ‘Draw Something’ 9 days! At the 99th Social Media Breakfast, this is what we set out to discuss and understand. How the Social Gaming Apps are changing the landscape of Apps and Games.
The Rise of Mobile Social Gaming
Social gaming became talk of the town when we started getting Farmville updates from friends. Mafia wars and Farmville started like wildfires, almost everyone was hooked or talking about it. That was the high point of Social gaming and games were being developed to tap into the rising social networking phenomenon. What changed this game and added a rocket fuel to this rise was the coming of mobile based social gaming. Mobile social gaming has suddenly skyrocketed in popularity. There continues to be tremendous growth in this industry. With the rise in smartphone users worldwide, backed by solid operating systems on these mobile devices, there is but naturally a proportionate increase in the number of game developers for these mobile systems. Social gaming leader Zynga made headlines few days back when it bought start-up gaming developer Omgpop for about $200 million. Omgpop was the start-up responsible for ‘Draw Something’, the 99 cent game which has been downloaded more than 35 million times in matter of weeks. The meteoric rise of OMGPOP is a case in point for the value shift away from traditional console games towards social and now mobile social gaming.
Update from 99th Social Media Breakfast
The group discussed the huge impact Social Gaming Apps have been making to the industry and the way they have been engaging our attention. These clever, engaging and addictive Social games are getting into an online movement of their own. To quote the most recent example of “Draw Something” that has been able to rope in 50 million Users in about 50 days of its launch !!! Launched by OMGPOP in Feb’12, the game rose to be the No. 1 paid app in iOS App Store in this short period, dethroning Rovio’s flagship rocketship – Angry Birds Space (another gaming runaway hit). This meteoric rise boils down to more than 6 billion drawings shared on “Draw Something” platform at the speed of about 3000/sec. Which is simply phenomenal. Zynga, the No. 1 company in the gaming domain, bought over “Draw Something” recently for about $200 million and promoted the CEO, Dan Porter as the VP and GM of Zynga, New York.
In the recent years (around 2009), the evolution of Social Gaming Apps was spearheaded by Zynga, the developers of Farmville, City Ville, The Sims Social and many more. Statistics show up that Farmville developed by Zynga currently has more “Farmers” than the real no. of farmers in the United States. This game caught up like addiction and since it needed the help of the Social circle, it used the platform to grow in multitudes. During 2010 and 2011, the runaway hit in Social Gaming was ANGRY BIRDS. Angry Birds has over 700 million downloads across all platforms including Desktops, smart phones, handheld devices, gaming consoles etc. By March’12, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio has become so immensely popular that it engages 1 million hours of game time each day and around 3.3 million hours of game time each day across all the forms. On the Christmas Day of 2011, total of 6.5 million downloads happened on a single day !!!
So, what makes these Social Games click? “Ease of sharing” updates, participation, invites etc. remain most critical factors for the huge popularity of these Social Games. Also, the proportionate mix of Desktops, handheld devices and smart phones over the years, have changed in favour of providing easy access to the Gaming enthusiasts. Further, organizations are taking calls of launching their gaming applications only on mobiles and tablets segment – whose nos. are itself on a steady rise.
If we look into the history of Gaming and the evolution of Social Gaming – we would all accept to the fact that “Games” were always intrinsic to Desktops, laptops or mobile devices / smart phones. Games have always been a big draw and during the years 1985-87, games like PC Man could get in huge interest and Offline “social activity”. With evolution of the Internet, the forum and the engagement moved to the next level wherein one could pull in his social circle at different locations and invite them to participate, engage and register too. A particular case was cited in which the User moved from Orkut to Facebook only because “Poker” was available at Facebook and his friends were playing Poker there. He made the shift and others too followed suit.
The group discussed and analyzed the components of a successful Social Gaming App. Following features were agreed upon –
– The game should provide for some really engaging “virtual rewards”
– Like any other Offline game, there should be a “rating / scorecard” at the end that the player can circulate to his / her social circle
– Should be extremely “easy to play and share”
– Must be able to bring in a feeling of “collective engagement”
– Proper “Audience Profiling” study and catering to their interest
– Ability to create ample noise at its launch and to continue the noise thereafter
– Should have version updates, and should raise the bar of excitement and challenge higher always
– User-experience should not be compromised in any case
– Speed of access is a critical factor, looking into the huge Concurrent sessions that will happen across various platforms
Social Gaming is one domain that has been seeing huge capitalization and investments, however, a long-term monetization model looks quite a challenge. Display Ads on the Gaming screens remain the prime revenue channel for now, as the revenue generated through “virtual buying” is not significant yet. More engaging and in-depth revenue models can definitely bring in more smiles to this industry and make it a win-win situation for the developers, users and the advertisers. Till then, Games remain a passion and will drive engagement across ages always.
PS – ***Breaks off and logs in to check the Highest score of the day on Angry Birds.***