Thursday, January 1, 2009

Social Gaming in 2009: Challenges and Opportunities

First, the challenges: Many of the execs I contacted brought up the unpredictability of social games. For example, Charles Edward Hudson III, V-P of business development for Serious Business, noted that the majority of startups in the space are still at the mercy of the top social networks, which have a habit of suddenly changing their policies — to the detriment of third-party applications such as social games.

There’s unpredictability in competition, too. Hudson pointed out that most social network-based games are easy to produce, so established developers often find themselves competing with quickie knock-off versions of their IP. Kristian Segerstrale, CEO and co-founder of Playfish, was also concerned with how dubious fly-by-night social games might hurt the genre as a whole. “Poor quality user experiences or misleading monetization mechanisms like some of the aggressive CPA practices we’ve seen in 2008 could jeopardize the perception of social games and our growth potential as an industry,” he wrote me.

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