Water, water, everywhere nor any drop to drink.
The games industry's infatuation with Facebook hit new heights this week, with Raph Koster interviewing Gary Gannon on why hard core gamers should be excited about Facebook games.
- Facebook is a terrible platform for complex games. It's fine for simple games but core gamers have traditionally relied on every ounce of system performance for a game experience with great graphics, connectivity and performance. Playing a hardcore game on Facebook is like running a sprint with one of your shoes off.
- Facebook games are well known for having relied on psychological tricks. Core gamers know this and we're going to assume that if you're on facebook you're trying to scam us. If we don't see an obvious scam it means we'll assume you're doing it subtly. Even if an ethical game designer doesn't scam us someone will copy them and produce a similar game that harvests our friends for marketing data and attempts to get our mobile numbers so they can bill us for unwanted sms services.
- The bottom is about to drop out of the Facebook games industry. Traditionally it's been propped up by three things. Advertisers who think spamming millions of email addresses makes them money, numpties who give out their mobile numbers on the internet, and venture capitalists who fall for convincing 1999 dot com style patter about how wonderful this business model is. All of these things will decline at the same time as the number of developers entering the industry grows. More competition for less money.
- Pretty soon everyone who uses the internet is going to have a real email/facebook account and a dummy one for receiving all their spam or playing games. This will really hurt the facebook business model.
- Facebook works because it's free. Players don't see value in these games they see value for money. Free is not in the medium term a sustainable business model. You can't go on forever expecting people who aren't the player to pay for players to play your game.
- Game designers like Facebook games because they are cheap to make while the rest of the industry is making very expensive games. It's good for the designers. However the decision rests with the players, we decide what we will be doing with our money and it won't be paying top prices for cheaply made games. Even if we were willing to pay a lot we wouldn't have to - the 20 000 other guys trying to make the same game as you will be undercutting you.
- At their best Facebook games are just recycling really old ideas. I played Populous 20 years ago, I don't want to play it again just because a clone released on Facebook. Are there any Facebook games at all with genuinely innovative gameplay?
- Hardcore gamers are very comfortable with running multiple applications. We don't need a Facebook game to socialise with our friends and guildies. It's normal for PC MMO gamers to have some kind of IM service as well as voice comms from third parties. Even in games where the integrated voice software is excellent (Eve, DDO) people generally prefer to use third party apps.
- Gamers find out about games from other gamers. Gamers sustain interest in a game because of other gamers. No gamers have been posting to say how excited we are about playing our MMOs on Facebook. Developers are excited about this because it makes it much cheaper to produce games but players aren't. That's crucial - attempts to lead players where they don't want to go fail as soon as players have an alternative (eg forced grouping).
- MMOs won't stay expensive to produce. A lot of the current cost is because every MMO-maker starts from scratch. At some point in the next ten years people will be making MMO engines and art available for fans to mod and build themselves and there will be an explosion of MMO creativity.