The “new kid on the block” always gets talked about the most. They’re for starters new, and that can be exciting, scary, and confusing all at the same time. For the past year, “social games” have been the “new kid on the block”. Quotes such as “Social Games aren’t games!” or “Social Games aren’t social!” and “You can’t put title X on Facebook because it would be horrible as a social game!” have been muttered but there’s one common problem with all of these statements. Everyone is not thinking of Facebook in the right way. Facebook is a console.
So let’s say that tomorrow Epic Games and People Can Fly announced that they are releasing a web based version of Bulletstorm exclusively available via Facebook. Some of the options which would be available (in terms of monetization) would be as follows:
Pay X Facebook Credits to play this game! You will have unlimited access!
Play the Bulletstorm Demo for free but Pay X Facebook credits to unlock the full game!
Bulletstorm is free to play but certain items cost virtual currency and maps are unlocked by the number of “neighbors” you have.
Bulletstorm is free to play but all items and maps cost virtual currency.
A certain gameplay mode is free to play via Facebook and it up-sells / markets the console version of the title attempting to capture a new audience.
Those are all rather real possibilities and aren’t the only options. While some of these might not be the best options it shows the versatility of how one could potentially position their title to monetize on a social network such as Facebook. If some of these options might seem familiar it might be because they’re not too far from how Steam, XBox Live Marketplace, and the Playstation Network operate. You purchase a demo and then unlock the full game or you purchase a title upfront and then purchase DLC for it. Facebook is simply a social marketplace that offers many viral methods of distribution which much like the iTunes App Store has seen great success within video-games.
If I am logged on to XBox Live and I want to play a game with my friends and they aren’t online I often find myself getting in touch with them to ask if they want to play a game. A lot of times today I find that I mostly use Facebook or Twitter to contact them. So why not create a party invite within your Facebook stream? In fact, Facebook is one GIANT matchmaking service waiting to happen for video-games. I would consider getting your friends together to play a video-game worthy of the interaction highlight reel.
Another note worthy of mentioning would be any progress which a player completes within a game. If I unlock a tough achievement I’ll tell my friends about it. I overtake one of my friends in a leaderboard I’m going to let them and everyone they know about it. If I need help on level 4 because the giant spider is really causing me some trouble I’m going to ask my friends about it. All these I believe are interaction highlight material because you want to brag, share, or ask for help and that is a social behavior. Not to mention, that services such as Raptr, Gamer DNA, and others are completely dedicated into mimicking a Facebook wall of a player’s game activity.
As in traditional game development, it comes down to the developer executing on their title. What option makes the most sense for the title and keeps the title true to its form. So go ahead, put ANY game you’d like on Facebook.