Busting 10 social games myths

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From the keynote presented at the Making Games: Social Media Summit.
Speaker: Thomas BIDAUX

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  • BUT the segment most attacked by social games is the “casual games” segment
  • More a platform than an audience
  • Stress the importance of retention now
  • Social games companies have grown : Zynga has 1000 employees, Playdom 500, Playfish 200+
  • QQ is an msn-like service.Other local social networks : Hyves (NL), Vkontakte (Russia), Nasza-Klasa (Poland)
  • Also there’s space for local games (petanque, belote, etc... Cf the Oktoberfest application 2 years ago)
  • They are slowly but surelymovingawayfromtheirChurn & Burnmethods and movingtowards more gamedesignedmechanicsalong the metricsdesignedtheydeveloped for the past few years.
  • Playdom itself was acquiring a lot of smaller players, Zynga acquired Challenge Games, concentration is at every level. Is Zynga still an “indie”?
  • Potential very big exception being Popcap
  • Busting 10 social games myths

    1. Busting social gamesmyths<br />Making Games: Social Media Summit<br />Munich, July 2010<br />
    2. Myth #0 I am fluent in german<br />
    3. I am fluent in German<br />Thomas BIDAUX <br />ICO Partners<br />Consulting agencyspecialisingin Online games<br />A selection of 10 myths about social games<br />
    4. Myth #1 Social Games are new<br />
    5. Social games are new<br />Facebook & social networks<br />Kongregate<br />MMOs & Browser games<br />Boardgames<br />Games…<br />
    6. Social games are new<br />Games have always been social – the new elementis the persistenceof the social graph and its use for marketing purposes.<br />
    7. Myth #2Social games are social<br />
    8. Social games are social<br />Whenwas the last time youplayed *with* someone on a facebookgame?<br />Social is a misnomer– the gamessit on the social networks. The majority are not social, they are viral.<br />This ischangingthough, more recentgames are integratingfeatureswhereyou are more engagedwithyourfriends (arguably, Poker games have donethisfromday one).<br />Check out: ParadisePaintball, Frontierville<br />
    9. Myth #3Social gamers are casualgamers<br />
    10. Social gamers are casualgamers<br />Whatis a casualgamer?<br />Social gamesaretaking a hugeshare of the social gamespace – but not only.<br />CasualGamers are not casual.<br />Social Gamers are not casualgamers.<br />
    11. Social gamers are casualgamers<br />More gamesemerging on social networks for thehardcore audience as well.<br />Niche isrich.<br />Check out: Verdonia, Warstorm<br />
    12. Myth #4Social means free marketing<br />
    13. Social means free marketing<br />Marketing isnever free.<br />Earlydays, acquisition was cheap on Facebook:<br />Viralitywasreallyhigh (as well as spam)<br />Ad markethad few companiesinvesting in it<br />
    14. Social means free marketing<br />The situation has changed.<br />Typicalaverage CPA has gone from 10c to 1$ (for actorswhoalready have a verystrong brand recognition)<br />
    15. Social means free marketing<br />Relatedmini-Myth: You need to spam yourway to success<br />It used to be possible, but Facebookchanged the rules – isstillchangingthemactually.<br />Reactivityis one of the new challenges…<br />
    16. Myth #5Social games are easy to make<br />
    17. Social games are easy to make<br />In the past 2 years, the quality has reallyincreased.<br />The quality of execution has drivendevelopment budgets up.<br />
    18. Social games are easy to make<br />Viralityis not easy to design within a game.<br />Business models are not easy to design within a game.<br />New technical challenges as well: scalability, database.<br />
    19. Myth #6Social games are not real games<br />
    20. Social games are not real games<br />Typical social games have:<br />Lowskillrequirement<br />High commitmentrequirement<br />The gameindustry has been therebefore:<br />PS3/Xbox vs Wii<br />Hardcore vs Casual<br />The industryisexpanding and sois the definition of games.<br />
    21. Myth #7This is an americanmarket<br />
    22. This is an American market<br />EvenconsideringjustFacebook, thisis a wrong perception:<br />30% of the Facebookuser base islocated in the US<br />Lookingat local networks makesiteven more obvious:<br />StudiVZ (15M users in Germany)<br />TencentQQ<br />
    23. Thisis an Americanmarket<br />Both the verystrong push fromSiliconValleyand the easier, unifiedmarketexplainthe US focus.<br />However,somecompanies have been quitesuccessfulusing localisation as part of theirstrategy (6 Wavesis a good example).<br />High quality localisation has yet to happen.<br />
    24. Myth #8Designed by numbers<br />
    25. Designed by numbers<br />The ZyngaStrategy<br /><ul><li>Clone a successful and provengame
    26. Use metrics
    27. Find the successfulformulas
    28. Improve the viralityto death</li></ul>This strategy has been verysuccessful for Zynga and isbeingused by mostdevelopersnow.<br />
    29. Designed by numbers<br />That strategy has been verysuccessful for Zynga and isbeingused by mostdevelopersnow.<br />A very good method to maximise acquisition and virality.<br />Not so good for retention.<br />
    30. Designed by numbers<br />SeemslikeZynga has reached the bottom of the bucket.<br />Nowmovingintomanuallydesignedmechanisms to improve: retention!<br />Check out: Frontierville<br />
    31. Myth #9An indie business<br />
    32. An indie business<br />Certainlytrue in the earlydays.<br />Recent acquisitions:<br />Playfishacquired by EA<br />Playdomacquired by Disney<br />
    33. An indie business<br />Stillverystrongindependentstudios around.<br />No traditionalindustryactor has managed to get real momentum in the space… yet.<br />Many are trying:<br />Ubisoft, Bigpoint, Gameforge, Frogster, SOE…<br />
    34. Myth #10The opportunity has passed<br />
    35. The opportunity has passed<br />Facebook has been dominated by the same few actorslately.<br />Very few successful new entrants. (Crowdstar)<br />Whowillbe the next?<br />
    36. The opportunity has passed<br />Costs of entry skyrocketing.<br />Investments in the spaceveryhigh as well.<br />This is the veryearly stage – a vastnumber of opportunities are still to beexplored.<br />
    37. Myths & answers<br />
    38. Thank you!<br />thomas@icopartners.com<br />www.linkedin.com/in/tbidaux<br />www.icopartners.com/blog<br />@icotom<br />www.slideshare.net/ICOPartners<br />

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