Gaming as a Social Platform
Social games is hardly new. Way before the days of technology people were gathering together in living rooms to play board games, card games and charades. However, the introduction of technology into the gaming world has brought a whole new meaning to the social aspect of these games.
Take Words with Friends, Zynga’s hit social game from 2009. By using the social media platform Facebook as a server, Zynga tapped into a trend that has yet to give way. Social media has been dominating our lives since the first one was created in the late 90s. By taking the idea behind a game we all know and love, and allowing us to play it anytime, anywhere, with anyone, Zynga was helping to launch a whole new realm, games as a social platform.
Fast forward to 2016. About 2.5 billion people own a smartphone globally. That is 2.5 billion people with access to the internet, games, the virtual world in their pockets. Besides the continued rise of multiplayer games influenced by social media, technology is developing newer, bigger, better features every minute. One of those features, is augmented reality.
Pokemon Go utilized AR in a way so spectacular it literally started causing car accidents. Everywhere you looked there were groups of teenagers, kids, young adults and even parents with phones in their hands trying to catch ‘em all (Pokemon that is).
For years we have been glued to social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connecting with people through a computer screen and seldom meeting each other in person anymore.
The introduction of AR in the mobile world seemed to be a much needed solution to this problem. We could be glued to our screens AND be together. Who would have thought? However, in the years since, the appeal of Pokemon Go has seemed to fade out. Niantic, the game’s creator, even tried to replicate the game using a different IP (Harry Potter: Wizards Unite) and didn’t seem to have as much success.
Does this mean that the future of social gaming is in trouble? Absolutely not. Social media has changed the gaming picture. Lately, we’ve seen esport growing massively and engaging fans all over the world mainly through social media interaction. According to Mary Meeker’s annual mobile games industry report, interactive games are the new social media (doesn’t matter if it’s console, PC or mobile).
We live in a world where reviews drive user behavior. In fact, Mary Meeker even reports that 66% of mobile gamers influence the purchasing behavior of those around them. Add a social or interactive element to that and things seem to get straight up addictive.
On PC and console, genres like casino and multi-player have allowed for people to play online with friends as well as make new friends that have similar interests. However, now it seems to be the era of mobile.
The convenience of mobile devices is, arguably, unparalleled. Console developers like Nintendo have tried to match it with devices like the Switch. While the ability to switch from a hand held device to a TV screen is unique, it will never compare to being able to whip out your smartphone and get playing.
Engagement Sweet Spot
Social gaming is booming. Players are spending 3.6X more time than the next leading category – entertainment. Did your ears just perk up, advertisers?
Ads displayed in social games have significantly better engagement rates that regular social media ads (20% compared to 0.5% on Facebook). As well as the industries highest completion rate (91%).
On top of that, Mary Meeker quotes a Newzoo study on the mobile gaming ecosystem that found that 1-in-2 mobile app users has opened a game on their phone in the last seven days. That is huge!
When all is said and done, it’s pretty clear that gaming as a social platform is a good fit for gamers, monetizers and advertisers alike.