Who’s Playing Social Games, Anyway?
Social Gaming is becoming vastly popular and according to sources from Allfacebook.com, 53% of Facebook users play games, 69% of Facebook Gamers are women, and 20% have paid cash for in-game benefits. If you think these numbers are high, wait till the stats come out for 2011 because these stats are from last year. The total social game market, including Facebook, is expected to reach $8.6 billion by the end of 2014 (not counting ad revenue) according to social-applications platform Viximo and SuperData Research.
Businesses and corporations are recognizing the value of the rapidly growing social game market. Do you remember Myspace? Well even if you don’t, the Co-Founder of Myspace, Christopher DeWolfe started a new company called Mind Jolt, which owns Social Gaming Network and Hallpass Media. Hallpass Media is a game portal that has about 4 million monthly users and 1,500 web based games. Social Gaming Networks have created popular games on Iphone and Android devices as well as Facebook.
You are probably wondering how does this affect you?
Well first let me state this, we can control neither the demand nor the popularity of social games, it is a fact that it will continue to generate a massive interest. This is not necessarily a negative thing but it doesn’t mean its all positive. Social games that are on Facebook, have generated popularity because they allow people to be entertained as well as socialize with others through the form of gaming. It has also had some negative effects because there are those that become addicted to games like Farmville.
I’m sure you’ve seen the posts on your Facebook wall with your friends sharing, “ Just earned the ‘Architect’ Yellow Ribbon in Farmville” or “Please send a donation to so and so’s habitat in Cityville.” I don’t know about you but this has an effect on me because the people that post these are friends on my Facebook page. I have 2 sisters and a niece that are social gaming addicts. Although they probably wouldn’t admit it, they are completely addicted and have gone from game to game seeing what game they can conquer next.
The reason these games become so easily addictive is because there is a process, you may have to wait a few hours for the plant to harvest or the game to replenish resources. Also the interface and game functions are very user friendly and do not require a manual to learn how to configure the games. I realized that my family is going to continue playing these types of games because they enjoy the social interaction they are able to have while playing with each other. I found a solution to provide to my family members who are fanatics of social gaming, the game is called, “Trash Tycoon”.
When I first began working at TerraCycle they were in the last rounds of the beta testing for Trash Tycoon. Trash Tycoon is a green themed game for Facebook, which teaches players about environmental issues and sustainability issues while they play. Users in the games take on the role of a recycling entrepreneur to collect trash and find eco-friendly uses for discarded items such as plastic bags or building material or even real life packaging like Kraft Cheese wrappers.
Players earn points, money, and 10% of the proceeds go to CarbonFund.org to fight climate change. So when I learned more about the game and actually played it I knew I wanted my sisters to start playing it right away. I didn’t feel bad for sending the link to another Facebook game that she might get addicted to because this game actually parallels real life behaviors and would educate her and my family about thinking of the environment.
The game is an exact mirror of the TerraCycle model, which is simply to collect waste streams, and traditionally non-recyclable waste and create something useful out of it.
So, yes, you guessed it my sisters and niece are now Trash Tycoons, but instead of playing a game that will take their money and give them no educational value they are now getting insight and principles that they can use to make the environment we live in more sustainable. Plus 10% of all proceeds actually help real life non-profits!
As a brother and an uncle I felt peace inside knowing that I could prevent my family from wasting too much time on social gaming networks with little purpose and now they could still contribute to society while playing games. Sounds crazy but its true. Although there is no way we can stop the mass majority from getting into social gaming we can provide games that give them some educational value or have some real life impact, I mean only 100’s of millions of people are playing Facebook games anyway.