Quick thoughts on Social games

As we’re working on a gaming project, I have given myself quite sometime to explore a number of games that are similar to ours. Besides the reference game that we use for the project, most of my time has been with Facebook games, specifically Mob Wars, Barn Buddy, and Speed Racing, in chronological order.

Mob Wars is fun, if you’re the solo type. Despite its social nature, it’s actually not that social. In fact, it’s pretty anti-social. It employs the Mob concept, which means the more friends you have on your mob, the stronger you become. Normally you would invite everyone on your friend list to become your mob member, but that’s tough coz not everyone has 1000 friends. So you would go to the forum, post your profile link so strangers can add you and vice versa. After they’ve joined your mob, you remove them from your friend list. What’s more, there’s very little interaction between you and your mob members. Outcome? You will be very wealthy and powerful, but lonely. I guess that’s the direction of the game. But the more wealthy, powerful, and lonely you are, the more boring it is. Period.

Barn Buddy, and perhaps Happy Farm, are very different. You own a farm, plant stuffs on it. Your buddies are also playing can do things like: steal your products, water, weed, and place weeds on your farm. And you can do the same. This, therefore, is very addictive. You’re playing less with the game but more with your friends. The level of interaction are extremely high, while the complexity of the game is kept at a minimum. Outcome? You will be spending a hell lot of time taking care of your farm and your friends’. You may even set your alarm clock to remind yourself of the harvest, so they won’t be able to steal yours. You may even wake up in the middle of the night just to do that. It feels very real as a farmer. Not just some imagary Mob boss. Guess what? The more friends you have, the richer you’ll become. Because stealing is indeed better than growing your own products. Wink.

Speed racing is somewhere in between. You race against your friends if they’re already there. Or you may just do tours. As the tours grow in terms of level, you will need more teammates. Doing tours makes more money. So your only concern is how many people there are in your team. You don’t even care about racing against your teammate. So if Speed Racing lets you add strangers to grow the team size, you will definitely go along that path. And it can become boring in the end.

For a game to be addictive in Facebook, it has to be really social. Letting you play with/against your very own friends. It doesn’t have to be the coolest game in the world, but it has to be just that social.

My observation.

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