After the news of the Facebook changes broke on September 21, we have some questions as to what the changes could mean for social gamers' ability to find new games and for the growth of the genre. In short, it's going to be a helluva lot harder for Facebook users to discover new games and for new gamers to be found as a result of one particular change Facebook Games product manager Jared Morgenstern calls "Discovery Stories."
According to Morgenstern, "People who do not play games will only see stories when a particular game is added by a group of friends, instead of ongoing News Feed stories. These dedicated stories will show which friends are playing a game, making it easy to join them. For example, instead of the typical story saying that someone just bought a new item, it could say "Dave, Jonny and 3 other friends" just started playing a game."
More on what this change could mean for new and experienced gamers alike after the break.
Fortunately, this means players can finally share their excitement of reaching the next level or finding a rare item with their gamer friends without endlessly bugging their friends outside of the virtual farm. On the flip side, it could also mean that it will be much more difficult for both veteran social gamers to find new games to play as well as potential new gamers to learn more about social games. As if it wasn't hard enough before to do viral marketing on Facebook, now new and veteran developers alike will have to reach even more players to spread news of their new game.
Additionally, Discovery Stories could make it extremely difficult for new developers with hopefully new ideas and little buzz to compete with the titans of Facebook gaming like Zynga, Playdom and Playfish, two of which are backed by major entertainment corporations Disney and EA Sports respectively. This means for us gamers that we could soon be seeing a lot more of the same. According to Morgenstern, this change will "drive new user growth for games," but for which games?
Honestly, it seems as if this change in particular was targeted at the token new game that has caught the attention of a few thousand players, posting the news on their walls, or what Facebook and non-gamers would consider annoying chatter. But this is almost the only way for new, innovative Facebook games to make their way into your news feed.
Here's a question, how do you think a game like Ninja Saga, aside from its obvious anime appeal and merits as an impressive early Facebook RPG, made it to AppData's weekly list of Top 20 Gainers in Facebook Games multiple times in recent weeks? Quality alone doesn't spread news like wildfire.
Considering the game has a nondescript website and was created by a developer that the average social gamer will have never heard of (hint: it's Emagist Entertainment), the game's recent success is most likely due to the few updates from players that luckily made onto their friends' walls. Since these friends probably share similar interests, they might have clicked through and--boom--another potential fan of Ninja Saga has been snagged. Until now.
After this change, it could take a minimum of five fans per one potential player to get that sliver of news out there of the next possible hit. And which developers are more likely to attract more packs of five players per one potential player? I think the answer to that obvious.
However, lasting appeal for games from even the biggest social game companies is in decline, and this change won't give developers like Zynga any more breaks as they reach out for their former glory. So, how's a relatively new industry supposed to reach new potential fans while promoting growth for gamers that have been around since the beginning? Branding?
How do you think you'll find new games to play light of the new changes? What can developers do to garner new players and promote new games in the obstacles like Discovery Storiesdis? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.