May 9, 2010

Social Gaming Summit: How social can casual games get?

Social Gaming Summit: Casual Games

While successful, casual games are not known for being as social as true ‘social games’

David SparkBefore there were lucrative games on Facebook, casual games have done very well existing on their own sites and on game portals. The casual game market paved the way for the social gaming market.

Problem is, beyond a leader board and some chat there’s never been anything majorly “social” about casual games. The “socialness” of casual games was the topic du jour for the panel “Casual Games Go Social” at the Social Gaming Summit in San Francisco. Speaking on the panel were:

Here are some of the issues came up in the discussion:

  • The casual game space has been social for a long time. But the definition of social gaming has expanded beyond just chatting with a player as you’re playing a game.
  • All games will have a social element (leaderboards) or social game mechanics. Casual games haven’t been that successful on Facebook because they don’t traditionally have social mechanics built into their games.
  • Casual games generate more money than social games. (editorial note: That claim I believe has to do with casual games generating more money outside of Facebook than on Facebook).
  • There are three types of gamers: (1) People who want to play for five hours on their kitchen table. (2) People who want to play for a few minutes on their iPhone on the way to work. (3) People who want to check in on the status of their game during their lunch break at work. Casual gaming attracts all three types of gamers.
  • Casual games are now trying to find different platforms to reach users outside of Facebook while also maintaining consistent game play across the different platforms.
  • While you want to do a lot of upfront thinking about your game development, you want to iterate your game based on the metrics of your game’s usage. Make updates on a daily if not hourly basis. Zynga releases code every single day.
  • Flash developers aren’t eager to make the move to HTML5 where all their code will be completely visible. Nobody admitted to developing HTML5 games.

For more coverage of the Social Gaming Summit, check out:

David Spark, a partner in, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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