Today GameGuidedog took a gander at how social gaming is set to evolve in the face of environmental pressure. EA Playfish’s Hotel City (above) is currently only to be found on Facebook, but with the migration of Zynga’s Mafia Wars on to iPhone, can a hotel-management app be too far behind? This year, Facebook has seen the kind of progression that’s not too distant from what we’ve witnessed in traditional console and PC gaming. For example, Millionaire City adds further layers to the resource. management template, demonstrating that social games can follow a path within a genre similar to traditional gaming.
These past two years, gaming on social networks has moved very quickly indeed, evolving from an offshoot of the wider browser-based gaming scene into a critical focus of the app ecosystem for many of the major social networks. Underneath this disruption, and despite such nimble growth, the arc of how content and composition within social games have matured is a rather common one. Early social games, the first generation, fell into two categories — throwaway widgets that rarely rose above silly distractions (such as friend-selling and quizzes) and were driven wholly by advertising, or menu-driven RPGs (such as Mafia Wars) that aped the long-standing content provided by such portals as Gameforge and Bigpoint, and monetised mainly through microtransactions. The former still exist, in dribs and drabs, entering and quickly leaving the top 200 games on Facebook, but never troubling the top-tier titles. The latter gave way, in part, to the second generation of social games, and the wave of content that spurred user figures to their early-2010 peak. The gameplay principles of accumulation and click-driven resource management have remained the same, but increased production values, interface refinements and depth of interaction have given way to titles such as FarmVille, Hotel City and myriad variations around such a structure. Sound familiar? Games such as Verdonia and Kingdoms Of Camelot offer a deeper than usual SRPG experience for Facebook garners, but how big can such titles get?