The rise and rise of social media gaming

Farmville: Helping to cultivate a predicted 1.5 billion big ones.

2014 may not bring us hover cars or jet packs but it’ll apparently be a good year for the social games market. Why? Well, a new report from media consultants Screen Digest suggests it’ll be worth $1.5 billion in four years time. Yes, $1.5 billion.

It really is a staggering amount of money to get your head around! Especially so when you consider that in 2008 social media games were worth just $76 million. Not that $76 is a small amount of money at all, but in 2009 that increased to $639 million thanks to 500 million active monthly users. The Screen Digest report predicts this growth will continue over the next four years with social media games becoming more and more popular.

I doubt anyone will be surprised as to what has caused such a massive increase in the social games market, with the Screen Digest report stating:

“The market remains dominated by the distribution power and massive userbase of Facebook”

Yes, Facebook. The reason for this massive upsurge in casual social games is titles like Farmville and Mafia Wars. Both of these games are produced by market leader Zynga who last year are thought to have got annual revenue of around $100 million.

It’s not exactly to see surprising with the massive advertising campaign behind the games. According to a Facebook ad I’m looking at right now, ‘Everyone plays Mafia Wars’ Well 25 million players might not be everyone, but that number suggests Zygna must be doing something right. Then of course there’s Farmville which just seems to have become an entity unto itself…the spellchecker I’m using to write this blog even recognises Farmville as a word!

So, with social games set to become even more successful, we used the Train2Game Facebook page (Appropriate, right?) to ask Train2Game students if they’d like to use their skills to help produce a successful social media title. The responses were….somewhat interesting! They included:

“Games like Farmville are easy to make, I would rather a challenge with the more hardcore games, however that being said I would like to give the lower level games a go also.

As far as Farmville go’s I would rather shoot my self head, but everyone has to start some where, and a small game like that could get you the experience it take to work much bigger projects.”

“Yes, you have to start somewhere… But not Farmville…I would feel like a total sell-out if I made a game like Farmville.”

And…

“Farmville is such a badly built game. I couldn’t believe the amount of corners they cut, honestly, I don’t think it cost them more than 2k to build the actual game. Mafia Wars was probably the same.”

So while it seems that the Train2Game students that responded aren’t exactly too keen to produce the next Farmville, it appears the majority feel that working on such a title would provide that all important first step into their chosen career – be it Games Design, Games Development or Games Art & Animator. While many people dislike the concept of social gaming, it’s difficult to ignore how successful it has become. Remember, that big old $1.5 million that’s just over the horizon.

So now it’s over to you, Train2Game blog readers. Do you think the social games market will really be worth $1.5 billion in four years time? What do you think has made it so successful? And how would you feel about developing a social media title?

As usual, leave your comments here, or on the Train2Game forum. Or why not join the discussion on the Train2Game Facebook page?

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