The Facebook gaming phenomenon is about to get hotter. I say Facebook gaming is about to get white hot, and Joel partially agrees. His says social gaming will go more mainstream (It's not mainstream now? 7-11 and FarmVille say hello.) and thinks Facebook's ownership of the platform will always pose an issue. I don't agree for two reasons:
- Facebook is already mainstream despite the fact there are not games built on big brands, like, say SpongeBob Squarepants.
- The old gray ladies of the portal days, Yahoo Games, Pogo.com, GameHouse (and Games.com) may have something to say about distribution channels. A big site like these drive a ton of players to a portal-sponsored Facebook game, and that could be protection against Facebook's control. That means small Facebook game developers can try to gain eyeballs via the old channels, and bring a different kind of audience to the party. Now that's hot.
Look for the next big social game acquisition to be CrowdStar
This is more of a yes/no question. Joel says CrowdStar wants to go public, and I think they'll be snapped up by a larger company. IPOs are so much tougher these days -- maybe Joel thinks it's still 1999? I say it's definitely going to be bought. Venture capitalists, the guys that fund these small start-ups, are sheep-like and exit strategies these days usually involve getting acquired. I'll go out on a limb and say Sony will make a grab for Crowdstar and the price will be a cool $600 million (outbidding Activision), just because they don't want to get caught without a social game company in the end.
Big branded IP makes its way to Facebook.
We're both on board with this notion. However, it's worth pointing out that new 'brands' are being developed in the social games space as is. And -- don't rule out sequels. There is no reason FarmVille couldn't be re-branded as FarmVille II: Back on the Farm. But seriously, this sort of rebranding just happened, where Playdom's Poker Palace was renamed World Series of Poker.
Facebook will have to acknowledge that it is a gaming platform at some level.
Joel says Facebook views itself as an advertising platform -- I don't agree. While it may a focus for the company, I firmly believe its also wants to make Facebook Credits the dominant monetization avenue for Facebook. The internet is dying for a new currency, and Facebook gaming has shown the Western world that people will pay for little items one at a time. Facebook is going to luck into it's biggest revenue stream just like it lucked into gaming. Viva la microtransaction!
To read Joel's original response check out The meaning of Playdom and Disney, the debate is on!
Who's do you think is right -- me or Joel? Leave a note in the comments below.