There's an interesting new trend developing in Facebook games. While we've all spent the last two years bombarded with me-too games about farming or tending to virtual pets/stores/cities, several companies are starting to reach out to a new type of social gamer -- the hardcore strategy gamer.
These PC-centric strategists make up a small but extremely passionate portion of the game-playing public, and instead of perfecting headshots in games like Halo or Gears of War, they prefer to take down enemies with a series of well-thought-out military style maneuvers (and a little resource management on the side) in games like Command & Conquer or StarCraft.
2KGames is planning to release a rendition of the classic game Civilization for Facebook and Kixeye (formerly Casual Collective) recently rolled out Battle Pirates with plans to create more of the same. Social gaming publisher Kabam, however, has been leading the charge with bringing serious strategy games to Facebook, with the release of Kingdoms of Camelot, Dragons of Atlantis and now, a new modern military-themed strategy game called Global Warfare.
The game is set in a "near future" world where goverments have been disbanded and replaced with a series of warring territories. Players band together to take on other states or dominate using less direct methods, like controlling resources such as titanium or crafting items using collected artifacts.
"We're focused on building real games for real gamers...," says Kabam General Manager Bryan Bennett. "We wanted someone to come into the game and immediately notice that this is different; this is not a typical Facebook game."
To do that, Bennett and crew added a handful of features ripped from classic real-time strategy games, such as crafting -- players can collect artifacts and use them to drive research and development for their societies. Resource collection is another new feature this game. Resources are scarce and in remote areas, designed that way to get players who like to "turtle up," out of their shells and interacting with other players. Bennett says they also played close attention to the game's user interface (which was inspired by StarCraft, btw) and the overall art style.
While this is a tried-and-true strategy game -- Global Warfare is also a social game, though not in the same way that, say, FarmVille is a social game. While there is some light gifting included in the game, GW's social elements work more like those in big online MMOs such as World of Warcraft -- where players form groups, called Alliances ("if you're not in an alliance you're going to get crushed," says Bennett) and then work together in real time to come up with a plan for domination. An in-game chat system helps facilitate all of the required planning.
Soon, Bennett says, Alliances will be able to go to war with each other (right now the game only supports player vs. player combat) and there will be Alliance-wide crafting that will give the entire group a combat bonus.
The game will be refreshed with new content regularly -- one big release per month -- and the next big thing to roll out in game is the ability to build a third city (right now you can access two cities), along with a new type of special troops and other bonuses.
Gallery: Global Warfare on Facebook
Oh yeah, like most other Facebook games, Global Warfare is free to play with the option to spend cash if you want to get ahead faster or score a few rare items. Some things you can spend your hard-earned gelt on includes speeding up how long it takes to train troops and build resources, and -- for those of you who like surprises -- you can spend cash to buy mystery crates with the chance to win a rare item inside.
For now, Global Warfare is only available on Facebook and both Bennett and Kabam VP Brand & Marketing Ted Simon says were tight-lipped on plans to move on other platforms.
"We believe that the game industry is at an inflection point -- current console games are fairly stagnant and growth is primarily happening online," Simon says. "As mobile platforms become more sophisticated, there will be a little shifting taking place.. we'll keep moving where our players are, but that's where we see the opportunities. We think we've got a bit of a jump on other folks."
Play Global Warfare on Facebook >
Well, what do you think? Is Global Warfare really a 'real game for real gamers?' Sound off in the comments. Add comment.