A Year Later and… Facebook it is!

I could have waited one more week and made this post officially on the one-year anniversary since my last post, but I hope to be posting more often, not less.

It’s interesting to look back at your posts from a year or more ago that have been perfectly preserved by the Internet.  In this case it turns out that my thoughts on Facebook are being validated — and that MMOGs are indeed evolving fast.

Last year at this time, I was musing on whether Facebook might actually become the new technology platform for MMOGs.  As I noted at the time, Mob Wars was steaming along with up to 500,000 daily active users and an estimated $7-15M in annual revenue.  Clearly the market for these games has exploded: Today that number of DAU would place the game around #25 on the top Facebook games (#42 of all Facebook apps) (per appdata.com).

With Zynga, Playfish, Playdom, and others leading the way, “social games” (a category people take much more seriously this year than last) are fast surging toward being a true mass-market phenomenon.  We’ve seen growth that strains credulity (the top Facebook social game, Farmville, now has over 25 million DAU) built on moderate innovation in a few game forms with the release of a slew of “X-Wars” games, farming games, aquarium games, and restaurant games.

And while there continue to be a few virtual-world-ish games (YoVille, Pet Society, etc.) out there, we now have an actual MMOG made in Flash and available on Facebook in Ohai’s City of Eternals, as announced last week.

I believe this represents the first of the second-generation of games on Facebook and the evolution of the MMOG.  In some ways CoE looks like a throwback to Ultima Online or Diablo — games made roughly ten years ago — but it is also unabashedly built on Facebook as a social platform and sits squarely in the “free to play / buy virtual goods” revenue model.

In the coming months I expect see the current pace of design innovation in this area sustained and maybe even accelerate as we see more games that look like classic MMOGs on Facebook.  Even more interesting from a design perspective, we’ll begin to see games that stand on the shoulders of current MMOGs and current first-gen social games to create new kinds of highly social game environments.  These will combine the depth of experience that MMOG players have always enjoyed with the social availability of current Facebook games — but maybe without the requirement of donning your tights and going to a virtual Renaissance Faire — the sort of deep genre-fication that has limited the mass-market appeal for MMOGs thus far.

Explore posts in the same categories: Facebook, MMOG, Online Worlds, social games

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