ok, i'm calling it right now:
Social Games is teh New Hotness.
i'm probably late to the party, but i've been hearing more & more about companies in this space, and after the NY Times article on Zynga i'm guessing it's now officially the hot new VC investment category for 2008.
(note for bandwagon entrepreneurs: "hot" does not necessarily mean "smart" or "likely to make money", but it probably does mean we'll see more startups jumping in & VCs opening their wallets ;)
but wait a sec, what the hell is a "social" game? aren't all games social by definition? what's new here?
Social Games = Casual Games (user engagement) + Social Networking (viral distribution)
briefly: "Social Games" is the handle for a new group of startups that combine the user engagement / retention attributes of "Casual Games" (easy-to-learn games with a broad audience target) with the viral distribution potential of social networking platforms like Facebook, MySpace, and others.
why is this such an interesting area? 3 reasons i think:
- social networks are a great environment for using & distributing games
- "casual games" are accessible to a very broad audience of users
- games drive deep[er] user engagement & retention (which might help monetization)
(btw: i'm still exploring this area & hardly an expert, so please feel free to comment / pile on / make corrections in the comments)
other companies in the space i'm aware of: Webs.com, Buddy Media (also created the FB app AceBucks), Hive7, and perhaps SocialMedia, which for the moment is positioned as a third-party ad network for Facebook. Kongregate is probably also in the mix, altho no social networking angle there yet that i'm aware of (did i miss it?)... still, would be pretty easy addition / integration for them (in fact, now that i think about it Kongregate might be an interesting acquisition target for Facebook).
others i missed?
links to folks who seem knowledgeable on casual games / social games:
- Raph Koster
- Amy Jo Kim
- Jeremy Liew
- Andrew Chen
- Naval Ravikant
- Nick O'Neill
- Saar Gur
- Susan Wu
- Jeff Clavier
again, i'm probably missing a few notables here... if any other companies / people i've overlooked please feel free to pile on in the comments.
UPDATE: "Hot" can also mean "getting sued" it seems... Hasbro (the owner of Scrabble) is suing to get the Scrabulous app taken off Facebook.