Has the bubble already burst on the Facebook gaming market? A recent AdAge article says 'yes,' especially for smaller game developers who are trying to make their games stand out in an otherwise very crowded space.
One of the ways that companies are getting attention to their games is by advertising on Facebook, but that can prove costly, and -- a lot of of the smaller guys will feel a tighter squeeze in July -- which is Facebook's deadline for app developers to transition to using Facebook Credits, which means they'll be handing over 30% of each transaction to the social network. From the article:
"For the most part, the window of opportunity for games on Facebook has closed," said Chris Cunningham, CEO of Appssavvy, a firm that pairs marketers with app developers and one that has worked extensively with Facebook. "There was a three-year window for companies entering Facebook, but since Facebook opened their platform in 2007, each year has brought stricter restrictions and requirements that have changed the Facebook app marketplace forever."
So what's a smaller Facebook game developer to do? Prepare to spends a decent amount of cash to find an audience and/or look to other places where smaller social games can thrive. Both Spil Games and Bigpoint are trying to lure smaller social game developers to their web sites, and the mobile/tablet space still remains a largely untapped territory for social games -- and some developers (even the big boys, like Zynga's Brian Reynolds) say that's because there has yet to be a mobile social network that provides as much built-in data/customers as Facebook does.
What does this mean for the Facebook game player? Well, it means that the Facebook gaming Who's Who (Zynga, Electronic Arts, Playdom, RockYou, Crowdstar and PopCap) will continue to drive the Facebook gaming scene.
While that's all well and good, it also reminds me of the time when big studios like Activision and Electronic Arts were the only companies putting out games on Xbox, PlayStation and other consoles -- things started to stagnate with the lack of competition, which lead to consumer boredom / declining sales (some might say this is still happening now, which subsequently made room for things like Facebook games and mobile games to thrive).
I tend to agree with LootDrop's John Romero when he says (in a recent Games.com interview) "If you think of game development as a pyramid, I think the tip of the wedge is on Facebook, as far as design goes." Would hate to see the small guy get squeezed out this early in the game when there's so much more that can be done in gaming on the social network.