If you’re not addicted to “Farmville” and “Bejeweled” already, you could be the next victim.
By 2012, 68.7 million Americans, 29% of the total Internet connected US population, will be social gamers, projects a report from analysis firm eMarketer.
That number might shock those outside the industry who view video games within the rigid confines of “Madden” and “Call of Duty”. Social gaming however is an emergent market, one in which you might not even know you’re a participant.
For 2010, the firm estimates a total of 53 million US residents played social games. Facebook game “Mafia Wars” and iPhone game “We Rule”, like Windows’ “Solitaire” before them, attracted a non-traditional audience.
Interestingly enough, the 2012 prediction marks a slow down in social games’ growth.
eMarketer points to Facebook’s change in notification policy as a possible explanation. If you remember receiving a bombardment of pleas to join friends on “Farmville”, you have a feel for the old policy. Developers exploited the direct means of contact in the social network by rewarding players who invited friends to play the game with in-game items. More players would join at friends’ requests then invite others to join for their benefit, and so on, spreading a game’s reach like a virus.
The new rules allow users to contact only those friends already playing the game.
A shift in policy won’t stop social games, eMarketer says. Growth on platforms outside Facebook, they believe, shows a continuing positive trend.