Facebook Games May Be a Bubble, But The Competition Far From Over
The site Games Brief has an article up looking at Facebook games and suggests that the time to take the top position in this area is now over:
If Facebook games are an arms race, then Zynga have clearly won it. They have more users than their next nine competitors combined and a lock on cross promotion that can’t be beaten. Only Zynga is able to regularly make games that will acquire more than 20 million users, and they have been tenacious to a fault in dominating every channel they can find. …
It’s not. Over the last year there have continued to be many investments made in social game makers, but few successes to show for it. The conditions in the market have changed because of the overpowering presence of Zynga.
Zynga is like the Bengal tiger. In the jungle, the Bengal tiger is king and every other species has evolved to get out of the tiger’s way. They can’t fight the tiger, so the only option they have is to run and alert others when the tiger is near. So the tiger remains king and gets its choice of meals, and every other species lives or dies by the movements of the tiger.
Now while I do feel there is a bit of a bubble being caused by lots of publishers and developers rushing into the social game space (something PopCap has said too) I don’t agree with all of Games Brief’s take on this. (Though I have a huge respect for the site and am an avid reader) Yes currently Zynga are the top tiger in that arena but swamping games on Facebook is simple. Indeed swapping Facebook for another social media platform is relatively easy. This is in contrast to swapping something like an operating system or a bank account. In many ways the top position is Zynga’s to loose – provided that keep doing what they do and well and don’t get complacement and stop innovating, they will be top tiger thanks to the momentum they have. But when a new and interesting shiny thing comes along and/or when the existing games stop being fun, fair or compelling – users can and will swap. There will be many who’ve build up a relationship with thier game and so have an inersia to change, but in a social space the viral nature of movement is swift and decisive. Look at the switch from MySpace and Bebo to Facebook, and that’s an easier user change than a switch between social networks.