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Ask HN: Are social games, such as Farmville, “dead”?
9 points by kermittd 96 days ago | hide | past | web | 6 comments | favorite
I'm working on a design case study for Facebook and am curious if HN thinks that social gaming as seen on Facebook or Myspace is severely diminsihed with the near ubiquity of smartphones or not.

By dead, I don't mean destroyed but weakened significantly. Concrete numbers that weren't from 2012 or 2013 were difficult to come by.




facebook killed "social gaming." social games became large because fb encouraged spamming invites to get more people to use and grow facebook, and then slowly locked down that channel. So, you could spend $5 in ads to get one user, that user would get 5 friends to join, so it only cost $1/player, and theyd spend $2 on average. This was great for building the platform, but once at critical mass fb needed to capture that money so they squashed the social channels in favor of their ads.

So now what happened is gamers on fb only would spend say $2, without invite spamming at $5 installs you lost money. But turns out people who own iphones spend money more easily. So everyone moved into mobile. While it didnt have the social channels, you could extract say $6 per user, so that $5 per install was still profitable. Before Apple really cracked down on some shady companies(they bot you into the top 10, you get thousands of installs from top 10 placement), you could drive that cost down even further.

Today, all the free to play apps in the app store follow a lot of the same patterns as social games - clash of clans is just a clone of backyard monsters(fb), which was probably a clone of something else. Some have social elements, mostly top charts, but... These games were never truly social, they were just addiction feeding machines. Effectively they just changed the name to f2p on mobile.


Ok very cool. I never looked at it from the business/ad side my process was far more simplistic ie Mobile Platform = superior game.

Yep the switch a roo from "social" to free to play is one of the things I noticed.


Perhaps for now, but the ubiquity of smartphones could also bring them back in new and interesting ways. The most recent runaway hit was Pokemon Go, and though it was clearly a fad, it may have had more staying power if the social aspects were stronger, e.g. direct PvP battling.

Caveat: Take what I say with a grain of salt; I've never built a game in my life.


I'd look into Facebook's actual app policies if I were you.

What made Farmville successful was to basically bribe players into sharing by rewarding them with in game currency. This resulted in a ton of spam.

If that's not outright banned by now, it's possible the feed filter makes those messages all but invisible regardless. They want people to pay to advertise now.


Take angry bird for example, see where that company is now.


Hmm true though I tried to focus more on social apps made on top of social networks, not ones developed primarily for mobile devices. But regardless good point about angry birds, and just look at Zynga now even with Farmville.

Also thanks for the reply!




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