Social Gaming is a term for games that are based on social interaction. By augmenting the game logic with social aspects players have to deal with each other in various ways to advance throughout the game. While social aspects have been part of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft for quite a while already, the rise of Facebook and Co created the ground for a new fi eld of games with social interaction as the main focus.
52% of the US adult population plays online games whereas 21% of this group is playing on a regular basis. Just recently EA-Games announced the signing of a contract for fi ve year partnership with facebook, producing online games for the world´s biggest social online platform using the new Facebook Credits system. Playfi sh and Zynga are also sound examples of game development agencies that develop social games and use online social networks (Facebook, myspace, etc.) as their main distribution channels.
While games in 2009 were oft en rough-hewn aff airs, with a focus on oft en-spammy viral tech-niques, 2010 has seen rapidly improving production values with the market being taken over by international companies like Disney and games like Farmville are played by millions of people.
For 2010 the sales volume of Social Gaming is expected to reach one billion US dollar, still a small number compared to the 19 billion dollar being awaited for the whole global online gaming market. But keeping in mind that last year´s sales volume only reached 500 million and in 2008 it only were a mere 100 million the tremendous speed of the growth of the social online gaming market becomes visible. But these numbers also make an underlying problem of the social gaming market visible. Big companies, with the expectations of gaining high profi t, are pumping a lot of capital into this sector. Some analysts already fear that a bubble is being created that sooner or later is going to pop. Research projects aiming at the Social gaming market should keep an eye on dissemination possibilities beside of the usual distribution channels (Facebook and Co.) as well.
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