One of the earlier posts in this blog asked readers to consider the possible effects on social gaming companies of the success or failure of Facebook as a public company. My postulation that gaming companies closely linked to the world's most popular social network would find much of their success out of their control seems to have proven correct over the past week, at least in a small way.
I stumbled across an article on DigitalTrends.com that made me start thinking about the future of Zynga -- the phenomenal company that created an entirely new segment of the video game consumer market. The article, linked below, reveals that Zynga plans to enter the world of online gambling next year, starting with a real-money poker game to be launched in legal and regulated markets. It wasn't too long ago that people couldn't get enough of Zynga's stable of games, staring at gradually-growing landmarks for hours while dishing out hundreds of dollars, 50 cents at a time. Why, then, should the company consider serving an entirely new target market?
While considering this interesting turn of events, I saw Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money highlight the fact that both Facebook (FB) and Zynga (ZNGA) stock took a major dive in trading on Thursday (Facebook plummeted even further on Friday). Then I remembered my earlier post, Upcoming Facebook IPO Could Change the Game for Social Games, and everything started to click.
It turns out that the influence over success or failure for gaming companies linked to Facebook runs both ways. I submit that the independent success of both Facebook and Zynga indirectly rallied each other in recent years, and that we're now seeing the opposite effect. As Zynga recently cut its revenue outlook for the coming quarter and Facebook reported it's number of new users leveling off, the detrimental effects of each piece of bad news seem to be shared between the two, in addition to the expected independent effects. What's good for Facebook is good for the gaming companies that rely on it, and the opposite holds true, as well.
My advice to social gaming companies is to do exactly what the social network that went public with a single productive asset did not do -- diversify your outlets. If Zynga games were as tightly entrenched in The Android Market, iPhone App Store, XBOX Live Arcade and other popular outlets, I wonder if Facebook's slowing pace of growth would affect it as much.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Ouya has burst onto the gaming scene in a big way recently, making headlines equally attractive to gamers and game developers. The company and product of the same name recently blew their Kickstarter funding goals away by over $2 million in the first several days, hooking backers with promises of a new type of console that they hope will change the face of the console-gaming market.
Built on Android 4.0, Ouya is designed as an open-source console with a price point under $100. Ouya encourages and invites indie developers to enter the world of console gaming as legitimate players, rather than as small voices in a crowded market of secondary importance, as is the case with current console's indie marketplaces. Far from a box for gimmick games, Ouya invites AAA developers and publishers to weight in with their best titles, as well.
Much has been said about the impact that Ouya may have when it hits store shelves in 2013, but I am more interested in the game-changing undertones of this project's very existence. The tug-of-war between AAA players and Indies has not seemed to favor either side in recent years. On one side, we see things like Digital Rights Management evolving to a point where sharing games is no longer an option, for example, while on the other side we see indie developers creating more open-source games with unlimited distribution. As another example, we see platforms like the Playstation 3 becoming more difficult for indie developers to break into, while at the same time publishing on mobile platforms becomes increasingly cost effective for indie (and even basement) developers. Ouya represents a merging of these two worlds and a reconcilliation of the two divergent trends. On a mass-market, open-source platform, AAA titles can exist alongside Indie titles with casual gamers unable to tell the difference between the two.
Whether or not Ouya makes the splash that many expect it to, this company has put an idea out into the world, and their success on Kickstarter shows that gamers and developers are not going to let this trend disappear. Ouya proves that the gaming industry as a whole wants to see Indie developers and AAA publishers on more of an even playing field; this can only be good for gamers and the industry.
For more information, visit Ouya's Kickstarter page: