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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Facebook Gaming - The Gateway Drug?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday February 2 2010 at 2:11PM
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As passionate gamers, I know we love to bash the fad that is Facebook gaming. Farmville, Mafia Wars, and all of Zynga's other offerings to most gamers are nothing more than shallow time-wasters for folks addicted to the e-stalking tool that is Mark Zuckerberg's college project. I would even be inclined to agree, except I'm also brave enough to admit that I'm a level 27 farmer with a huge plot of land in Farmville, thanks to the urgings of my fiancée to hop on the tractor. I would say “wield the hoe”, but then people might think I'm talking about her and I'd like to keep the woman as my future bride.

But what if these pointless little browser-based doodads are more than annoyances filling up your Facebook newsfeed? What if instead they are acting as the perfect gateway drug for future gamers? My fiancée, let’s call her Megoski in order to find out if she reads this (you’ll be able to tell by the welts on my torso tomorrow) was talking to a regular client about Facebook, when the topic of Farmville came up. The customer in question was espousing the virtues of tilling virtual soil while my Megoski simply shrugged and said, “Come on, really?” A born gamer, she is not.

And yet, her client’s constant stream of laudation for Farmville hit a curious nerve in Megoski. One night during her own stalking rituals on the Book of Face, I watched as she cautiously clicked on one of her client’s Farmville posts… the fall into madness had begun. Next thing I knew, upon her arrival home each day there was no more hanging out on the couch to talk about her day. Not right away, anyway.

Rather, when the front door opens these days, I watch as she says hello to the dogs, pecks me on the cheek and runs upstairs to her laptop to harvest about 200 bunches of grapes in order to save enough coins to upgrade her farm to plantation size. This from a woman who calls me a nerd (lovingly) for having a map of Mordor over my PC… okay, so maybe I am a nerd, but at least now I’m not alone.

I am beginning to see Facebook games not as some hindrance on the advancement of the industry, but instead as a wonderful new phenomenon that is going to bring more people into the wonderful world of online gaming. A few weeks back Megoski asked to make her own Xbox Live avatar. I took this opportunity to show her the demo for A Kingdom of Keflings, figuring she’d at the very least get a kick out of seeing her creation stomp around on screen and picking up villagers. Then it was two hours later, and I was grabbing my credit card to buy enough Microsoft Points to purchase the full game.

Does it matter that Facebook games are so simplistic, and relatively cheap and shameless in their ploys for money? Not if it helps bridge the gap between a hobby that was previously only my own and make it also my future wife’s. What started with Farmville moved slowly into Fishville, and onto the Xbox 360. I dare not show her what the Sims is all about; I would like to have her attention once in a while.

A former coworker of Megoski’s once nearly convinced her to try out Everquest 2. Had said coworker not turned out to be a dud and get herself fired, I suspect eventually that my betrothed would have caved in to the looming presence of the EQ2 box sitting in my office and asked to see what it was all about. But alas, maybe I’m just a dreamer. For now I’ll be perfectly content to use Farmville in arguments over whether or not I should be playing so much Global Agenda.

So next time you log into your own Facebook account find yourself affronted by a slew of updates concerning lost penguins, golden mystery eggs, or even whacked mobsters just take a deep breath. One day those vesting so much interest in their farms and mafias might wind up being your guildmates, or a competing soldier gunning you down from a nearby bell tower. Or more shockingly, you may wind up like me… intricately arranging your white fencing to keep your livestock in order and make your farm look presentable to the viewing public. That reminds me, I think I have a few mystery gifts to open. I hope they’re not a bunch of worthless white chickens.


Delvie writes:

Yep, it's addictive.  I got to level 20 Farmer and decided the family drama was too much for me (literally family is no longer speaking to each other due to Farmville, keep accusing each other of cheating).

That said a lot of my family have been calling asking if I've ever heard of WOW or STO, etc.  They've known for years that I MMO - and have thought I was nuts to spend so much time gaming, it's a very nice change to discuss the various merits of each game.

One thing that Farmville shows is that games don't have to be all about combat.  I've said for years that more games need to provide polished simulation experiences.  For example, why hasn't anyone done a western?  These types of games are all about experiencing something you can't realistically experience in real life.  You could say that a western themed MMO would have problems because it would be hard to be politically correct.  But, why can't it be a game about exploring and settling, building towns and finding new resources, surviving the elements, etc?

There's a huge bunch of people out there who would like to be able to create stuff, and in real life just don't have the time to do it justice.  Look at all the hobby knitters, woodworkers, etc.  Some are incredibly talented while others make those Xmas gifts you don't know what to do with.  For all our sakes please can some developer give them an outlet!

Tue Feb 02 2010 3:01PM Report
slashbeast writes:

 Eerie. My mother, of all people, plays all the facebook games like an addict now. And the last video game she played before those was super mario brothers in the late 1980's.

She's not known for playing any kind of video game whether it be online or off, so having her come in straight from work every night and hand ME the dinner cooking duties while she hops on her laptop to play mafia wars.  Mainstream indeed.



Tue Feb 02 2010 3:03PM Report
Chrysos writes:

I have to admit Farmville has moved my gf from "I don't understand why you feel the need the escape reality in THOSE games" to "I can see why people would play games".

A small step but a world of difference.

Tue Feb 02 2010 3:06PM Report
pojung writes:

It's genius. FB gaming has such a great accessibility level, with a social atmosphere that is entirely created by the user (friends list dealing with RL people known). Castle-Age has personally sustained my MMORPG needs while between titles.


The fun thing to reflect on, is how the hardcore games circa 2000 and FB games of 2010 have more in common than everything in between. To a certain degree, they are more 'true to form' than many of the titles we've seen since 2004 onwards.

How are they fundamentally linked? Simple: the basis for both was one of a social nature. Think about it.

Tue Feb 02 2010 3:43PM Report
JestorRodo writes:

 The only problem with Social Network gaming is that they will never have to pay for advertising here.  They do not need to, Facebook is very good at marketing themselves.

  To be honest with you , a social game player on Facebook would not waste their time here when they have all the resources ( and most for free) on Facebook itself.




Tue Feb 02 2010 4:34PM Report
JestorRodo writes:

 The only problem with Social Network gaming is that they will never have to pay for advertising here.  They do not need to, Facebook is very good at marketing themselves.

  To be honest with you , a social game player on Facebook would not waste their time here when they have all the resources ( and most for free) on Facebook itself.




Tue Feb 02 2010 4:34PM Report
Neut101 writes:

 yeah, jestorRodo, but the facebook gamer its not going to play a MMO with the lvl u will find here, i mean, in those game, u actually don't interact with other people, just with his character, i mean is a comp controling his character, is not the same as a real MMORPG or any MMO where u know that there is another people behind  the funny guy that's is killing u or helping u. 
Also, lol double post 

Tue Feb 02 2010 4:51PM Report
Hamilton-NEO writes:

Facebook Apps (and let's not forget of other sites) provides both a good means for revenue, community growth and advertisement for 3D MMO's.  And the other thing, it is easier, quicker and cheaper to build out an App than a 3D MMO.
Also, such App are in my opinion of what the mass marketed MMO's should be like.  I suspect that the full scale 3D MMO's that are for the mass market will suffer greatly, while those with a niche market will continue to grow.

Well that is what I believe and taking action on it.  See how it turns out as we will go live in one month with our own app.

Tue Feb 02 2010 7:10PM Report
Thradar writes:

I have a close friend who plays Mafia Wars non-stop and has to send out a message for EVERY achievement.  So my wall is basically a gigantic Mafia Wars billboard.  I don't visit Facebook often anymore.

Tue Feb 02 2010 11:14PM Report
hogscraper writes:

 Just to see how bad it was, I jumped on Facebook to see that I had 113 yoville requests in the last 2 weeks that I have ignored. Luckily for us all I noticed that it said those games will no longer be sending me info through Facebook and asked for my email address. NO thank you!

I saw an interview with the guy that started Zynga it was disturbing at best looking at the crap they do to get and retain users. 

Wed Feb 03 2010 3:30AM Report
Apricoth writes:

 The lure of Facebook Application games is the fact that you do not have to spend a great deal of time on them like one would on an mmorpg. Well, that depends on the application anyway and how many games one is playing at a given time. I personally focus on Castle Age - it's quick, satisfying and easy to step away for several hours as I wait for my stamina and energy to regenerate.  I am a one Facebook application gal. People keep trying to hit me up to join Farmville, Fishville, Mafia - I say no every time. I know my limits and hell - I just enjoy the idea of Castle Age. It is almost as good as the pen and paper version of RPGing.  :) 

One person, an online friend of mine, introduced me to Castle Age. I was bored, been waiting for more FFXIV news to be released, salivating after FFXIII. I got into Castle Age and was quite content. haha I then recruited several family members both here in the staes and in England. They are in my army as well as 140 other strangers!

It's limited fun and it's perfect.

Wed Feb 03 2010 6:38AM Report
an0maly33 writes:

My wife was ok with playing on a console so I started her with the Baldur's Gate games on the PS2 several years ago. She got hooked on those.  We did BG1 & 2, and both of the Norrath games that used the same engine.  From there I got her into Guild Wars when it released because "it's pretty much the same game, just different controls."  She was hooked on that throughout the pregnancy of our first child.  From there it was a small step into EQ2 and she's been there since - about 3.5 years.

Find your gateway...

Wed Feb 03 2010 9:18AM Report
mszv writes:

I think facebook games such as Farmville are great -- not time consuming and no combat, and no mean people.  We help each other out.  I like that.   I wish that MMOs would adopt some of the same strategies.   I also like the asynchronous nature of the games. I think that would work well for MMOs, though you'd have to have more mellow people playing.  Say you have a quest, and one of your players battles a guard and gets ot a gate.  Then, your lockpick person opens the gate, when they get on.  It progresses more slowly, but it progresses.  I would like that.

As to not interacting with other people, on the beta of Island Life, you can go to an island and socialize with other people.

This is real gaming as much as anything else is,

Wed Feb 03 2010 10:43AM Report
Tolroc writes:

Facebook games have helped my wife and daughter understand why I like to play online games. They're not going to join me in LOTRO anytime soon, but now they at least understand the appeal.


Good first article.


Wed Feb 03 2010 10:59AM Report
prashantweb writes:

i guess most of facebook users are using it to play games now not to communicate with friends

Wed Feb 03 2010 1:57PM Report
dadown writes:

I had some fun playing Facebook games, but I got tired of the continual pressure to drag all your friends into it in order to advance.

After stepping back and looking at how much time I was spending vs the fun I was having, I decided to delete all my Facebook games and just spend the time on regular MMOs. I also block all the game spam on my Facebook news feed.

Wed Feb 03 2010 5:56PM Report
Mordacai writes:



Luckily for you all, wardog has been working on a facebook adaption of Force of Arms mmorpg as well as our 3d game and hopes to tie in both together and of course there will be direct links to our mmo site (advert purposes of course) :D

It's in testing stages right now and working on content...but yeah for us we love the casualness of the facebook apps/games and how its bringing in main streamers to gaming

Tue Feb 09 2010 11:41AM Report
triggerman24 writes:

ive been a diehard gamer for a longtime and ill be the first to say that im proud of my skilled enforcer on Mafia Wars. to me it doesnt matter how much they spent on development or graphics but if the gameplay keeps you glued to the screen or coming back to it in your spare time.

i used to play runescape when i had the time and if i had a better setup i would do a better mmo but runescape is good if you had no other options. mmos like runescape could also make people go from casual to hardcore because of all the noncombat skills

Fri Feb 19 2010 11:51PM Report writes:
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