More Mobile & More Social Gaming

Guest Post by Todd Marks, CEO viaPlace

Historically, games were always a social activity.  This began to shift in the 1970s, when arcade games became prevalent and with the introduction of PCs and game consoles, game play became a largely an individual experience.

Today, powered by technology advances and prevalence of social websites like Facebook, digital gaming is reintroducing the social experience into gaming and masses are embracing the shift.  AdWeek’s Mike Shields recently posited that the widespread adoption of social gaming is behind the demise of the soap opera, noting, “When Zynga… arrived on the scene in 2007, both All My Children and One Life to Live were averaging a 1.9 rating among women 25-54.  By 2011 the two shows were averaging 1.3 and 1.4 ratings respectively in that key viewer group. The drop is even steeper for other demographics.”

The newest trend is that digital social gaming allows users to digitize traditional games from the physical world and enhance the social nature of the games by leveraging mobile devices.

Our company, viaPlace, has built a framework to deliver Location Based Services, Augmented Reality, and Social Gaming to mobile applications.  We recently released “TAG”, a game of elimination that has traditionally been played across college campuses using low-tech devices like water guns. Players compete to find and “tag” assassination targets until there is only one player remaining. viaPlace transformed “TAG” into a high-tech game leveraging mobile devices using their digital cameras for the “tag shot.”

Within the game, players also utilize the foursquare check-in API to broadcast their current location at set intervals to help assassins hone in on their targets.  However, this is not just used to seek out potential Targets to “tag.”  By using a Game Wall that aggregates all player activity, locations and comments, TAG increases social engagement across all players both within the game, and in the real world.

 

Figure 1: Smartphone Usage Leading to a Revolution in Social Gaming

Source: viaPlace

 

The thirst for social mobile gaming is evident in the growing popularity of mobile games and of the platforms that support them.

Flurry, a mobile application analytics engine, reported in February that 26 million unique users play social mobile games more than 25 minutes a day on average.

 

Figure 2: Games Dominate iPad Apps

Source: Flurry

 

Additionally, mobile gaming networks such as OpenFeint enhance mobile games by providing social components via leaderboards and connecting gamers over the Internet.  Last month the network surpassed 73 million registered users, adding new users at a rate of over 4 million per month.  The company currently has over 4,000 combined titles for iPhone and Android including some of the best-selling mobile games of all time, such as Rovio’s Angry Birds which alone recently crossed 100 million downloads.

The biggest reason social gaming has leapt to mobile platforms is because the technology is finally there to support it, providing a better experience than the previous platforms.  Smartphones, in addition to mobile Internet connectivity, now include capabilities such as Augmented Reality, Location Based Services, Near Field Communication, Face Time Communication and Gyroscopic Everything, which have opened the door to a host of newer and cooler games users can play.   Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, recently pointed out that Smartphone utilities are “Augmenting Humanity” with global mobile traffic growing 260% in 2010.

– Guest Post by Todd Marks, CEO viaPlace

 

THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL GAMING – 4-15-2011

After the meteoric rise of Cityville in December 2010, and post the holiday season, Monthly Active Users (MAUs) for the Top 10 Facebook game developers trended down for two months, but March saw an MAU increase of 2%, to 432.3 million.

From the time we began tracking the social gaming sector in April 2010, the three largest developers in terms of aggregate MAUs have remained at the top.  Of this group, however, only Zynga has experienced MAU growth since April, which is largely due to the success of Cityville and its 89 million MAUs.

 

Source: developer analytics, Wedbush Securities, Inc.

Cityville remains the most successful social game ever, peaking at over 100 million MAUS, and is off only 11% from its peak (against an average of almost 45% for the other current top games).  Texas HoldEm Poker remains the most enduring of all social games down only 5% from its peak.

Source: developer analytics, Wedbush Securities, Inc.

One other success story is Wooga which, powered by the success of Diamond Dash, Monster World and Bubble Island, has eclipsed Playdom as the fourth largest game developer.  Playdom’s decline, after being purchased by Disney in July 2010, highlights the risks that large media companies face when acquiring social assets of which they have minimal understanding.

Source: AppData.com