Facebook-based social games come in a surprising variety of flavors. Want a monster-fighting game? You got it. Want a restaurant-management game? You got it. Want a pet-raising game? You got it. Want a farming game? Oh boy, you’d better believe you got it.
But Sean Ryan, Facebook’s director of games partnerships, believes the Facebook gaming scene could use some original and unexpected niche content beyond casual games for parents, kids and fairweather fans. He compares the current state of the social platform to broadcast television twenty years ago, when shows seemed to be segregated by channel.
“We have the farming channel, we have the city building channel, and we have the pet nurturing channel,” he said jokingly in an interview with Gamasutra. “Clearly there is room in every other media category to have lot of successful players.”
Ryan points out, for instance, that there isn’t even one romance-based social game on Facebook–unless you want to count wooing a potential mate in FrontierVille.
Will we see more diversity in social gaming? Let’s hope so. From this vantage point, social game developers seem more interested in cloning Facebook’s success stories, hence the glut of farming games, city-building games, and pet care games.
But there’s far more to social game development than copycat studios that jumped knee-deep in social gaming for the sake of a quick buck. Frankly, imitators have existed since the beginning of gaming’s history: The North American home console crash of 1983 can be partially blamed on developers ripping each other off in hopes of making some quick dosh. However, the imitators and the crash never changed the fact that the Atari 2600 boasted some high-quality games that were made by talented people who genuinely wanted to advance gaming as an entertainment choice.
The same point stands for social gaming. There are hacks about, for sure, but there are also men and women who believe in the platform and want to do their best. In time, we’ll see social gaming go to interesting new places and shatter the thick-walled runs that sequester each of today’s genres.
In fact, Ryan stated that he believes the social gaming scene is gradually becoming more diverse, and that “we’re starting to see a broadening out of the types of games that are available, as people understand that we have every type of audience.” Chin up: You’ll get that vampire romance Facebook game sooner than later.
Or maybe you won’t. In which case, we venture to guess that your heart will go on, somehow.