If there’s one thing that often gets overlooked, its social games. Normally considered a waste of time or something that’s only come about in the last few years, social gaming gets quite the rough deal.
However little do people know that if it wasn’t for social games we wouldn’t have the thriving games industry that we do now. Thanks to the social games sector we can now enjoy our games on as many formats as we like.
But what are social games?
Well, a social game can be described as those you would expect to find on social media websites like Facebook, which put user interactivity at the heart of the gaming experience.
They are simple little games that are easy to play and let you share items, scores and achievements with friends. There’s a variety of different genres and everyone has at some point seen the various posts from games like Candy Crush or Farmville appearing on their Facebook news feed. They are games that provide players with an incredibly gentle learning curve, easy to understand controls and a feeling of community as players all work towards the same goal.
A benefit is that most of these games don’t require any victory to be achieved so it removes competition and creates a friendlier atmosphere as new players aren’t crushed underfoot by veterans; instead they’re usually supported and helped by more experienced players.
These social games are incredibly important because it opened gaming up to what’s termed the ‘casual market’. A demographic of players that have little to no gaming experience and just for a few minutes of fun in their day.
It’s this market that has allowed for the world wide acceptance of gaming as not being a niche area of entertainment anymore; thankfully it’s now accepted in modern culture.
Gone is the ‘basement dwelling troglodyte’ picture as industries ranging from gambling to videogame developers realized the massive market that could be tapped into from the ‘casual’ and social market.
But where did the acceptance come from?
Well thanks to social games on sites like Myspace, Bebo and Facebook, a wider audience of people began to see the benefits and fun that could be gained from gaming either through apps or flash titles.
With the acceptance of this came the next issue, developing the technology.
If we were going to have people interacting with each other, it was going to have to be on something that didn’t suffer from connection issues and had an easy to understand user interface that would entice new players thanks to its simplicity.
A general rule of thumb according to some developers was to have an interface a user could look at and understand in ten seconds. If they hadn’t grasped it by their first turn it was deemed too complicated and redesigned.
Of course there were a few stumbling blocks along the way since most developers are used to churning out the same safe titles every year.
Various iterations of the usual parade of shooters, racers and role playing games and in the case of the Call of Duty development teams, output literally the same game every year without fail.
Social games were a bit of a curve ball that a few development teams struggled to overcome. But this didn’t last for long as games like Farmville, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans started to lead by example.
Development teams started to catch on to what was expected and thus the great app store race began, you could say that this is what caused the then slumbering giant of the gambling game sector to take notice and start churning out their own game apps.
They started creating titles such as Slots Social Casino, the world’s first 3D high definition slot machine for Android users that incorporated Facebook into it allowing players to send messages, gifts and chips to one another.
Or Bingo Blitz, a brilliant Bingo app that lets you connect with millions of players around the world as you chat and play up to four Bingo cards at once.
Most of these can be found on the app store or through websites like bingoonmobile.co.uk for example.
Social games have played a key part to the development of the gaming industry as they’ve caused developers to step back for a moment and start to work on more simplistic titles.
Of course they will still pile a ridiculously large amount of money into other games; and they will still strive to make sure that the demographic of the ‘casual’ market is still being catered to.
Because when it comes to keeping gaming fresh and fun, increasing the variety of your content is what’s key to keeping your fans coming back to your brand.
So you could possibly argue that social games have had quite the important impact on the gaming industry after all.
So now instead of being overcrowded with the same dull and repetitive ‘AAA titles’, we’ve got a welcome break of more fun and basic games waiting in the wings for us, titles can often be a lot more entertaining than their blockbuster brothers.