Gaming and the Internet
The web has always been a source for gaming ever since the very first text-based games in the early days of the Internet. A web game gives players a place to go when online to meet new friends and play in vast virtual worlds where they can forget the day-to-day troubles and just have fun. Games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest II, City of Heroes, and countless other entertain their fans and keep players coming back for more. These games grow large Internet communities where players can discuss their game and keep connect with friends or guild mates. Web based games are fun to play but they all feature one major flaw, the games take up a large portion of a players free time. It’s difficult to be a casual player in a MMO game since you can’t get very far in the game without invested time and most of the good content requires a constant experience grind to get there. These games do have their fans but it is a hardcore group of dedicated players and hardly the place for a casual Internet gamer.
Enter the Social Game
With the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, a new breed of game has taken shape on the Internet the social networking game. These games are basic in nature and don’t take up valuable hours in a person’s life. Popular genres in social games include farming, city building, text-based rpgs, strategy war games, sci-fi, and many others. Players can enjoy these games with friends or got the more traditional route and just play with other social networking users. It doesn’t matter whether you are a stay at home mom, a student, or a busy executive, you can still enjoy some gaming when you play over social networks. There’s no monthly subscription to worry about and you can get premium content and extra features only if you decide to pay for it. These games are completely free to play and enjoy by everyone. There is always an endless supply of new titles to try and if you tire of a game, you can move onto a new one. When you play a traditional Internet game, you often have time and money invested in the game making it more difficult to let the game go.
Many social networking games have seen explosive growth. Companies such as Zynga have seen titles such as Farmville and CityVille with millions of user according to AppData, which tracks Facebook application activity. Farmville for example, currently has over 44 million users while CityVille has over 89 million users. Other companies too have players in the millions due to the popularity of Facebook and the ability to reach millions with their games. Traditional gaming companies such as Electronic Arts are releasing titles such as Dragon Age Legends and sports titles like Madden NFL Superstars to capitalize on the popularity of social networking sites. Sid Meier the developer of the popular Civilization series with soon release the social game Civilization World on Facebook which could be a game changer for the site.
While the bulk of these games feature average to mediocre graphics and sound, this too is changing. Titles such as N.O.V.A Elite now feature full 3D graphics and require more computer power. The Unity plug-in provides advanced 3D graphics for social networking games with titles appearing monthly. New games are featuring more animation while moving away from the basic text and graphics. These enhanced features bring in more players since they offer better game play.
The Social Gaming Future
Social networking games won’t replace traditional web games and MMOs anytime soon but they are slowly developing a huge following. There will always be players who what a more robust experience that only a fully features MMO can experience but many game players simply don’t have time for these games in the fast-paced world we live in. New social games with better graphics and gameplay will bring in more players. Social games are changing the way we play games because they give players more choice than ever before and target a huge neglected market, the average casual gamer. As social media gathers more steam, games will naturally follow along with it. Enter the new frontier of gaming.