Too much chocolate is making Facebook sick

Digital Chocolate recently reskinned Millionaire City and MMA Pro Fighter to increase their town-building/text-based RPG portfolio threefold. This surprises me, as Digital Chocolate are known for being quite original and creating more complex games on Facebook. This is going to be more of an opinion piece, since it could be working very well (and apparently it is), but I absolutely abhor the direction they’re taking.

Facebook has a real problem right now. The flood of low quality clone games make it difficult for new gamers to distinguish between what’s worth playing and what isn’t. There’s a reason that it now costs tens-hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a successful game, unlike before, when it was possible by tiny startups with low capital. New games without the backing of a massive player (Zynga, Playdom, Playfish etc.) do not have an established user base to feed from. The only way new games from independent developers can make a mark is through extreme advertising spends (and Facebook is an expensive platform to advertise on) and a bubonic plague level of virility. The former is impossible when compared to the levels that Zynga spends. The latter is much more difficult than it sounds, as a virus requires a base to spread from.

.

.

That is what’s great about Applifier and Appstrip, as they encourage inter-app feeding for the little fish in the Facebook ocean. However, these applications are also ran by businesses and their selection process will favor applications that already have a ton of users. I believe there is a MAU requirement to apply nowadays. The only way a budding Facebook developer can amass enough users to be regarded as ‘successful’ is to have the best game in the world. Only through blowing everyone’s mind will the virility begin and replace the need for massive advertising investments.

This is not good enough. A game might still be innovative, brilliant and extremely fun, but be overshadowed by the mountains and mountains of uninspiring, cloned rubbish on the Facebook gaming marketplace. As a company that already has an established user base (12.7 million MAUs on Millionaire City), it breaks my heart to see a developer, that has innovated and taken risks in the past, stoop to this level. Digital Chocolate should be releasing the next innovative PvP strategy game, not reskinning and exacerbating a problem that the company itself has faced before it emerged.

.

.

As I said previously, I’m sure this makes a lot of business sense. Apart from cannibalizing their existing user base, I’m sure reskinning MMA Pro Fighter into Ninjas Rising and Epic Fighter is going to attract users who like Ninjas and Elves but hate Mixed Martial Arts. Hollywood City will attract people who like movies (although isn’t that just as generic as people who like money a la Millionaire City?) and Vegas City will attract people who like gambling. Digital Chocolate might have a very healthy balance sheet, but Facebook has eaten too much chocolate and is turning into an slow and inefficient way to play social games.

.

Social gaming is facing the same demise as Augustus Gloop

.

The Facebook gaming marketplace is overwhelming and confusing, and most new users will encounter uninspiring garbage. Social gaming needs innovation and quality, but first it should take a look at itself and work on losing some weight. This has to start with developers and I thought Digital Chocolate were one of the good guys who would help lead this charge.

.

.

Sam

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: