The Problem With Core Games on Facebook

The Problem With Core Games on Facebook

Can social games for Facebook attract a more hardcore or traditional video gaming audience? Zynga probably won’t test that idea by turning FarmVille into a first-person shooter (don’t let us discourage you from launching a letter-writing campaign), but an Argentine social game company called MetroGames is ready to try wooing core gamers to Facebook.

Its first effort is Auto Hustle, a game that is heavily inspired by the original Grand Theft Auto, to put things lightly. You, as a recent gang inductee, slay rival gang members, collect weapons, borrow cars, and avoid the fuzz whenever necessary.

Auto Hustle plays decently, as it should, given its heritage. But is it enough to bring core gamers to Facebook gaming, a genre that is already hundreds of millions of players strong?

Facebook is certainly capable of attracting a core audience, even though several hardcore gamers already tend to farms and frontier villages on their lunch breaks, whether they admit to it or not. What’s more questionable is how those core gamers will feel about playing games that are a direct rip-off of respected classics. Obviously, some will have no problem with it: Grand Theft Auto by any name is still a great game. Others might be uncomfortable playing a game that takes Rockstar’s idea, puts it on Facebook, and asks for money.

However you look at it, Auto Hustle is a reminder of social gaming’s most troubling issue. Its problem isn’t that it can’t attract core audiences, but that cloning and rip-offs are rampant. Not all core gamers have closed themselves from the social experience, but the lack of creativity in the genre is a huge turn-off for anyone who’s familiar with the games industry. In other words, while grandpa and auntie have no real qualms about playing Facebook ports of games that were done earlier and better on past game systems, those of us who grew up with those games feel otherwise.

When developers manage to brew up a “core” Facebook game that goes beyond firing guns at gangsters we killed years ago, we’ll be in a better position to see what appeal social gaming holds for the core gamer.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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