End of Social?

According to A List Daily (a gaming industry site), social game investments have “fallen off a cliff” in the last year. Investments are down 94 percent. No, you didn’t misread that. Only one twentieth of the funds are going into the sector.

Meanwhile, another story there says that mobile gaming is now “cluttered”. Budgets are skyrocketing, yields are falling, users are getting harder and harder to get and retain, and new entrants face the reality that Apple gets 128 new game app submissions every single day.

So the darling of a few years ago, social gaming, has collapsed. Everybody that was singing the praises of “social” before is now piling into the mobile scene. I think that they might just want to survey the wreckage they left behind a bit first. There’s some lessons to be learned there.

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2 thoughts on “End of Social?

  1. Pete Davison says:

    Investments may be down, but profit is still huge. The most successful social gaming companies are now plenty capable of supporting themselves without the need for investors — King.com, Zynga and EA being the particularly notable examples, yes, even with Zynga’s woes last year.

    There may well be something of a contraction in the size of the market in the near future — and that’s a good thing; there are far too many social gaming startups today — but it by no means has collapsed.

    Mobile is playing an increasing role, though. King.com has seen an explosion in profits since they brought their most successful Facebook games to mobile, and found that users monetise (urgh, I work in the biz and still hate that word) considerably better on mobile than on Facebook. So the future for this particular aspect of the industry is likely to be on cross-platform games that can be enjoyed wherever you are.

    That and tapping into the “core” market. I’m yet to see a social game (or mobile counterpart) that is genuinely satisfying to me as a “core” gamer. When (if?) they nail that, that will be interesting. I’m in no hurry to see it happen, as I still much prefer the “pay once and you ‘own’ it” model, but courting the core seems to be the Holy Grail for a wide variety of social gaming cos.

    • craigbamford says:

      I’m sure there will still be popular and profitable social games. Considering the fame of The Walking Dead, an ADVENTURE GAME of all things, I’m not about to discount any genre of game being successful and profitable.

      What I’d say the investment thing shows is that chasing trends in gaming is a really, really bad idea. A lot of people got burned chasing social, and there’s every indication that a lot of people are going to get burned chasing mobile. Considering the badly faltering console market and the confusion over what the hell games are supposed to BE over the next decade, that smells of “highly destructive burst bubble” to me.

      After all, if the bubble bursts on mobile, thanks to a gaming market more crowded and punishing since the days of the 2600, where on earth is everybody going to GO?

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