10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Play!
Facebook has become one of the dominant platforms to play games. In fact, more than 200 games published on the world's largest social network. So, popular is the platform that it's enabled Zynga to become the first U.S. company to make the virtual goods business a reality, thanks to the millions of Facebook members playing games with one another.
Given the popularity of Facebook as a platform to showcase new games, we decided to take a look at some of the game trends that will sizzle and fizzle in 2011.
The idea of being able to collect virtual items inside the game is already a proven method of engaging users, and a handy way to monetize your game.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, virtual goods are in-game items, sold by the developer, which help players to advance in the game faster. For example, if you play Farmville, and you want to grow carrots, you will need seeds first. You can spend three hours in the game looking for the seeds, or you can buy the seeds from the shop in the store. The currency in these worlds are known as in-game credits. Those credits are bought with real-life cash. User can pay for credits either directly on the site, or by buying gift cards.
Some companies are even making exclusive deals to give specific groups of users exclusive items. American Express and Zynga recently teamed up to provide customers with limited-edition virtual goods in Zynga’s games.
Games to watch that leverage virtual goods:
Beautiful You! - Collect items to put on fashion dolls.
Funky Fish - Collect collect birds, cakes and valuable champagne bottles, in a side-scrolling adventure.
Send Shoes - Collect shoes and gift them to your friends.
This trend brings the game to the user. The simple act of being able to play a game in the user's native language can localize it. Both IMVU and Big Fish Games have expanded into several European languages in 2010. More companies are sure to follow.
Another way of localizing is by helping people find local friends to play with. Services like GameGround are helping players to find local gamers. This idea will not be possible for every game.
Games to watch that leverage localization:
California Skateboarding - Locations in this game are based on real locations in California.
Relief Copter - All locations in this title are based on real locations affected by the Pakistan floods.
Let's be blunt. Facebook is not oriented towards music. That area belongs to MySpace, which re-branded as a social entertainment hub. Unless music games have a large library, and varied method of play, these games get old very quickly.
Billboard Music Challenge - A quiz/ karaoke title.
3D games sound really cool, at first glance. After all, who does not want to see their Farmville farm in 3D? Companies, such as TirNua, are betting on the idea that a real-time 3D-game engine, will be the future of Facebook games.
Despite the general trend towards 3D, and Apple's snazzy new patent, the fact remains that most users will simply not have the hardware to run a true 3D experience for games. That is not to say that higher definition game do not have a future on Facebook. Services such as Turbulenz, are working on browser-based games, with console-quality graphics.
Play Bike 3D game - A 3D take on the classic side-scrolling mini-bike game.
RocketBird - Attempt to avoid 3D objects with your forward-scrolling bird.
Now, happy gaming!
And, Happy New Year!
(New Years ball image property of the city of New York)