I’m going to tell you this, and tell you this once.
No matter how many statistical numbers you bring in, I’ll tell you that the video game industry is a niche market.
Video games are not as widely influential as gamers might want to accept. Well, Wii might have changed that a bit, but that’s a whole different discussion. Heck, since I brought that into the subject, why don’t I just go ahead and ask the question.
To royal, core gamers out there, I dare to ask: Is Wii in the same playing field as PS3 and Xbox360?
Nope, it’s not. Wii is in the same industry as Sony and Microsoft, but the playing field is far from equal. It has gotten more attention from the public than other systems with its ‘motion sensor’ playing mechanism, but many gamers are sticking to the PS3 and Xbox360 when it comes to core gaming (Mario, Zelda and Metroid series are sweet, but would’ve been sweeter on HD with good online gaming experience). But whether core gamers agree or not, it was the Blue Ocean market that Nintendo went after, and so far it worked out pretty well for them. They have made tons and tons of money.
And now, there’s a new Blue Ocean. It’s called “Social Games.”
Though it doesn’t share common factors from traditional “video games”, I think social games have the characteristics to be categorized as games, just like Wii games are.
And I also believe that these Flash games with the easiest control mechanisms ever (a single mouse click) will most likely be the new “hot zone” for developers and publishers in years to come. With all the social networking services exploding everywhere from your desktop PC to tiny mobile devices, whoever comes up with a clever idea on an SNS platform will be a successful player in the field. Yes, some might argue that it has less artistic features that traditional video games might aim for, but who cares when you can make millions and millions of dollars, right?
It’s simple math really. Which platform do people own more; an internet-enabled computer with a browser, or a video gaming console? Which platform has easier access to the public? Which platform offers easy controls that almost anyone in your family can enjoy? If you have answered all of them correctly, and did some math, I don’t think we core gamers should take this “social game phenomenon” lightly. Remember, the industry evolves around profit, not artistic factors (We can name many hardware/software which failed even with artistic factors but that’s a whole different editorial).
I’m not saying the social game will change the coarse of gaming history. But it sure will influence a huge amount of people, like how Wii did. There are plenty of social games that brings more than 1 million monthly ACTIVE players per month, all the way upto 80 million. These companies make so much money that they don’t even need an IPO to bring in investments. Just like Wii, it won’t shift the whole industry, but social games already have made their own playing field. They even might steal some of the core gamers who’s looking for more simple ways to enjoy their spare time.
So next time when you witness Flash games like The Big Adventure from Svetsoft, or Restaurant City on Facebook, think twice before you ignore them. One day, those games will (or already have) bring in more players than the largest MMO in the world. You don’t think so? Well, I already have more social game addicts than the video game console players between our family members. And I think I might join them soon; how can you say “No!” to the game where I can hire my friends to operate my own restaurant?