Analyst: Social games about to go “second generation”

By Brenna Hillier, Thursday, 6 October 2011 00:00 GMT

Social games are poised to evolve beyond the pay-to-not-wait structure which has dominated for the past few years, one analyst believes.

Making a comparison to traditional gaming, EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich cited the example of first person shooters, which went through massive renewal when online play became the norm – innovation driven by technology advances.

“What we’ve seen over the last 3 years should be classified as the ‘first generation’ of social games. I believe we are going to witness some of this evolution when Zynga launches its new 3D Mafia game in the coming months, which may propel social gaming into its second generation,” he told IndustryGamers.

This evolution may be necessary for social games to survive.

“One interesting trend we are beginning to see is that social games are beginning to hit their peaks much sooner than in previous years,” the analyst explained.

“Due to an increase in discovery technology, in conjunction with social games now having mass-marketing campaigns, we are beginning to see social gaming activity frontloaded, much like we see with HD console games.

“When combined with the increase in competition we are beginning to witness consumers getting their ‘entertainment’ fill much quicker on time-based management games.”

Divnich isn’t calling doom on social games, just the genre of time-based games, drawing an analogy with Guitar Hero as bing “innovative for its time” but “eventually reached a feature ceiling” amidst countless knock-offs.

“Social gaming market has [not] peaked, but rather it is maturing in relation to what is presently available, technologically, to publishers and developers,” he continued.

“I believe that all the major publishers in the social space have realized this and as we move forward we will continue to see Facebook and social game publishers invest and experiment with new technologies that will ultimately give rise to new genres or evolve current ones.”

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Jesse Divnich