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Zynga Adds a New Depth to Facebook Games

January 15, 2008

From a NY Times article that covers the release of Zynga, a game development company focused on creating games for social networking sites, comes some very interesting news. Of particular interest to me is this quote:

Zynga has some aggressive plans to stitch together its various properties. Beginning this week, when users join one of its games, they will have access to a universal lobby where they can chat and interact with other users who are playing other Zynga games on other social networks.

I’ll be curious to see how Siegel will expand his existing Facebook pyramid to cover this: flat, shallow and deep…. with bridges? At least it would be in keeping with the liquid metaphor.

This adds a new dimension to social network game design and propagation, and I’m very much looking forward to exploring it.

There are a host of possibilities:

  • How does one handle network-to-network propagation?
  • Will advertising space in the lobby be the most expensive?
  • Will people even use the lobby for games or as a massive cross-social-site chat forum? That alone could have some serious draw.
  • With other sites license the app to include their games in the lobby?

These questions can (and will) go on and on. Expect an update on all this soon. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 16, 2008 10:28 am

    I think games have been heading this way for a long time, just very VERY slowly.

    The first stage, maybe 20 years ago or more, was when certain developers and publishers encouraged players to buy other games from them. Buy one game, get an advertising pamphlet telling you about all our others.

    When MMOs started getting popular and some of the earlier ones launched sequels, there was a bit of cross-pollination there. Some companies only allowed people in their exclusive beta test of the sequel if they were in the original game. Others gave players in-game incentives to move to the sequel after its release. I don’t know if anyone allowed players to take some of their loot or character stats across the boundary between games, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Some single-player games that launched sequels, gave you a bonus if you owned and finished the original game. At least one game had an easter egg where you’d see more content if your memory card had saves from other (unrelated) games by the same publisher. All of a sudden, your save game on a memory card isn’t just for that one game.

    Then we get things like Battle.net and Pogo and later Steam and Xbox Live, where there’s a whole online community of gamers that may not even play the same games. Recent innovations like Achievements and Gamer Score create this strangely compelling metagame where each AAA title is actually more like a mini-game.

    On GBA, there were two Zelda games (Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages) that sent you back and forth between one another; each one would give you special passcodes that would only work in the other, and to get the best ending you had to play through both games once and then play through either game a second time (with all the secret clues you got from BOTH games the first time through).

    And now there’s Facebook, and someone’s doing the same thing there. One thing I’ll be looking for is cross-game data: if I play one game in their network and then switch over to another game, can I take some of my loot with me (translated into the new game’s mechanics, of course)? Can I earn bonuses in one game that can only be used in a different game? Will there be other incentives to try other games in the same network (“buy 2, get 1 free” or equivalent)?

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