We, the Concerned Social Game Players and Creators, hereby announce by unanimous vote that You, Social Games As They Are Today, are condemned to the maximum penalty – Death by Guillottine – to be carried out at the end of this blog post.
Before the sentence is carried out, we shall list the 7 Deadly Sins of Social Games As They Are Today, which have been perpetrated for several years and which undeniably prove your guilt:
In lusting for our money, you have become more and more aggressive in trying to monetize our time. Which is all good, if you just didn’t try it with every angle of the game, sneaking it in at the last second, just when we thought we already unlocked that new feature or quest or asset. We, as users, want to pay (hell, we LOVE to pay for good stuff, look at all those years we payed monthly for World of Warcraft even we didn’t have time to play it). Just explain to us, possibly even in advance, why and what for and when we have to pay, and – if we like the game – we’ll do it gladly.
Your Energy-based mechanics love to devour our precious Time, like old Chronos did with his “beloved” Titans. We understand game time can – and should be chargeable – if that’s your preferred monetization method. Just don’t sneak it in and don’t make it happen so frequently, so that our Energy ends in a few minutes and often in the crucial moment of an event, causing ludus interruptus and great frustration.
You take and take and take, but you don’t give much in return. Your click-based, rote mechanics are fine, but only as long as we get new content when we level up, and also new features and excitement. Give us also a sense of discovery. Gamification should go hand in hand with Gameful, you know what we’re saying?
Instead of just refining and tweaking Energy-based and Time-management game loops until you can squeeze every last drop of Hard Currency, how about your get your ass out of the chair and try out something new? You don’t need to implement hardcore game features, just look around in the gaming world and copy, steal, tweak, invent, keep on trying. Yeah, something like the Empires and Allies’ Battle Blitz. Or you could try out and elegant HTML5 instead of asset-bloated Flash.
Do not get enraged at being judged, found guilty and decapitated. This whole, nasty thing is actually done to help you, the Social Games. In the medium and long run, this will work miracles in making the next generation of social games better, more exciting, successful and with happier players.
Don’t envy the power, majesty and money (and big, bad investors) of Facebook. Think Quality, think Vision, think the Medium or Long Run. Not everybody can go IPO in 3 years or so by refining the same mechanics and going overdrive with the viral potential of Facebook, flooding people’s News Feeds in doing so. Actually, only Zynga can go IPO like that, and only Zynga will. So, learn what you can from Zynga, then forget Zynga and focus on something new. Forget the numbers for a millisecond, focus on the concept, on the gameplay, on new and more engaging ways to viralize your game, on the target demographics.
Don’t think can things can go in the same way forever. That there is no need to do better stuff. That you can continue to be Social Games that are not really Social, because there is no real-time engagement, no long term involvement with friends, no discovery of new friends to play with. That you’re never going to be accountable for bad quality and frustrated players. Well, since right now you’re on the chopping block, I guess you figured that out already.
THE END IS NIGH. MAKE WAY FOR THE NEW.
And now, alas, the time has come to end your suffering and bad rep and make way for the New Coming of Social Games. We see glimpses on the horizon (Social Sims, a few others…), but it’s not enough. However, we see hope after this Rightful Onslaught, if We, the Game Creators, will focus on making Social Games a genre to be universally proud of.
But now, enough with words.
The time has come.
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Giuliano Cremaschi writes about the interconnected worlds of Social Media and Social Gaming, and their inextricable and ever-evolving relationship