Social networks are a great platform for games

Kristian Segerstrale of Playfish left the following comment on my post last week about widgets and social networks.  He is excited about the prospect for widget games on socnets – and if you read this post my guess is that you will be too (always assuming you aren’t already).

I’ve knows Kristian a while now and he is a smart guy.  He is a veteran of the gaming industry and was founder of successful mobile games company Macrospace.

Thanks for the great post. Let me add a little to it from the perspective of video games. After all, we are used to the idea of existing purely in the context of different platforms created by 3rd parties.

Socnets make great game platforms – perhaps the best there ever was. Despite the lack of screen real estate They have so many advantages over other game platforms that they are likely to have a significant impact on the games industry as a whole over the coming years. Here’s why :

1. Knowing who your friends are allows for entirely new types of game design centered on the emotional want to play together and express yourself rather than escape the real world. This is very difficult to do on platforms who don’t know who your friends are – be it a website, XBox360, DS or a Wii.

2. Having access to a vocal user community, tons of player data AND the ability to tweak the game at will allows you to make better games – even if a particular player wants to play alone. You can constantly learn from your users, perfect how your game is played and distributed and communicate with your players about changes. Something that most other platforms can only dream of.

3/ Monetisation of a game in the context of a socnet cuts out the retailer and allows for far more inventive and interesting business and distribution models than what is available on most other platforms.

Video games have always been dependent on 3rd party APIs and socnets are no different. If anything socnets are better in that they tend to be more open and have no first party game publishing interest to worry about compared to other platforms.

So games will for sure continue to exist on platforms outside of socnets. But socnets could well turn out to become the primary platforms for many of them – particularly at the casual end of the market.

This turned out more as a post than a comment – but there you go. :)

More on the subject here:
http://blog.playfish.com

Check out his game and if you are curious about this space check out his blog.

Union Square’s recent investment in Zynga is evidence of more of the same thinking.