Look at that troll bait headline! To clarify a bit, everything you know about video games is actually right, but only when talking about a niche of game players. This niche is called hardcore gamers. What makes you wrong is when you try and apply all your insights about this niche, years of information gathered from thousands of hours playing games, to the much larger set of all game players in existence. A surprising amount of professionals are making this mistake RIGHT NOW. Not making this mistake actually puts you in a minority of people that are poised to be successful in the coming years of video game development.
The audience for games is expanding at such a rapid pace, that hardcore gamers are becoming a minority. This isn’t a bad thing. Plenty of small companies are successful at selling products to a small audience with specific tastes, which is pretty much the definition of niche. Let’s imagine for a second that sometimes a niche is discovered and then later generalized into a full blown industry. Maybe the world was full of Carcassonnes and Settlers of Catan and then one day Milton Bradley and the Parker Brothers came along and changed everything. This is what happened in the video games industry.
Social gaming is big. FarmVille has more players than the most successful console game of all time, Wii Sports, and it did it in a fraction of the time. We’re talking four times as fast. Social games happened so fast that it’s probably too late to become an industry star; those companies already exist and have taken off into space. What’s worse, recent Facebook policy changes have shut down all known launch pads leaving everyone who’s just starting to take notice grounded on Earth. Down on Earth, it’s a good day if your game, which took two years and $200 million to develop, sells 9 million copies in its first month during Christmas. Up in space, a Facebook game might take 4 months and a couple million dollars to develop before it starts making hundreds of thousands of dollars per day for multiple years.
This understandably is making a lot of people bitter. They sometimes say that social gaming is just a fad and things will go back to normal. Yeah, 70 million people wanting to play games with their friends at their own convenience is a fad and is going to be replaced any minute now by 9 million people figuring out how to hook up an xbox, buy xbox live, and play a first person shooter with strangers.
Other people fall into the ‘kicking and screaming’ group. They think that social gaming is going to be a gateway drug to richer game experiences. This is true, but not in the way they mean it. Richer game experiences are simply going to be iterations of what has already been proven successful for social games; not Bioshock. A casual game player could play Monopoly every day for three years straight and they still won’t be ready to play Agricola. Star Wars Monopoly is within grasp, though. Social games are not simple games that evolve into console games. Social games are their own state-of-the-art designs that will bear fruitful game offspring that never resemble console games.
So please, to everyone who is bitter or kicking or screaming, please stop with the snarky articles of that one time you played FarmVille just to see how stupid it is. Because everyone knows you kept playing.