3个月后，Zynga推出了《FrontierVille》，该污名随后也就渐渐淡出同辈硬核游戏开发商的心中。部分原因在于它的游戏质量更高，比《FarmVille》更加迷人，画面也更有魅力。另外部分原因在于，不论硬核游戏行业对于《FarmVille》和Zynga多么挑剔，《FarmVille》都是一款无可非议的游戏。再来就是，开发商普遍认为社交游戏获利丰厚。据Iinside social games预测，社交游戏市场今年将创收12.5亿美元。游戏邦认为，虽然市场已经开始走向成熟，但其中仍旧蕴含无限的机会。如今，社交游戏开发商只需投入少量的资金，经过几个月开发周期就可推出一款社交游戏，而开发针对某一平台的掌机游戏，动辄需投入高达1000万美元的资金，且开发周期通常长达1-3年。
但众多硬核游戏世界的人士之所以不再将社交游戏视为异类，且将《FrontierVille》和硬核游戏至于同等位置，原因在于该游戏出自硬核游戏元老布莱恩·雷诺兹（Brian Reynolds）之手。雷诺兹加入Zynga之前，曾参与了Sid Meier备受赞誉的《文明》系列的制作，同时还开发了由硬核游戏发行商Big Huge Games发行的策略游戏系列《国家的崛起》（Rise of Nations）。在游戏邦看来，雷诺兹显赫的背景确实为《FrontierVille》赢得不少声誉。
雷诺兹并非唯一从硬核游戏转战社交游戏的游戏开发者。过去几年，我们可以发现Raph Koster，Richard Garriot，Brenda Brathwaite，John Romero及Sid Meier均纷纷涉足社交游戏领域。即便是电子游戏学者Ian Bogost 在推出了意图讽刺社交游戏的恶搞作品《Cow Clicker》之后，也迷上了开发Facebook社交游戏。游戏邦发现，其他规模更大的游戏公司也纷纷跟随游戏大腕的脚步。EA于2009年收购了Playfish，不到1年又传来了迪斯尼收购了Playdom的消息。如今，即使是像《荒野大镖客：救赎》（Red Dead Redemption）和《龙腾世纪2》（Dragon Age 2）也化身社交游戏出现在Facebook平台上。
硬核游戏行业对于社交游戏的看法可能有所改观，但随着越来越多的硬核开发者涌入社交游戏领域，社交游戏也将发生巨变。无论好坏，社交游戏机制都将变得日益复杂。从较早的《龙腾世纪2》在Facebook平台推出的《Dragon Age Legends》来看，硬核游戏开发商希望在社交游戏中加入更为丰富的游戏设置，而非维持原有的简单“点击”模式。此外，由于资金雄厚的开发商，争相花钱聘请更高级的艺术总监（Brenda Brathwaite称之为“画面质量的较量”），游戏画面将变得更加绚丽多彩。同时由于与社交游戏相关的硬核游戏可以充分利用外部因素刺激游戏设置，社交游戏也会产生新的营收渠道。游戏邦发现，该推广策略首次出现于《Dragon Age Legends》，支持该社交游戏的玩家获取掌机版《龙腾世纪2》的相关道具。
硬核游戏和社交游戏之间的分歧不会完全消失。但是，不论两个行业之间差异多大，其终有共同之处：那就是游戏的趣味性。硬核游戏和社交游戏的开发商都希望开发颇受用户追捧的游戏。所以虽然社交游戏开发商在2012年的游戏开发者大会（Game Developers Conference）上，未必能够受到热情的款待（游戏邦获悉，社交游戏在奥斯汀的GDC Online上被Best New Social/Online Game奖项拒之门外），但我们相信这一领域必将涌现更多更好玩的游戏。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
What Core Games Bring to Social Games
It’s no secret social games suffer a “they’re not a game” stigma. Just one year ago, the audience at the 2010 Game Developers Choice Awards show booed FarmVille General Manager Bill Mooney when he accepted the first-ever GDC award for Best New Social/Online Game. What prompted the boos was the part of his acceptance speech where he invited independent game developers to apply at Zynga. Somebody in the audience actually shouted, “You don’t make games!”
Three months later, Zynga launched FrontierVille and the stigma started to fade slightly among my core games peers throughout the rest of summer in 2010. Part of it had to do with the quality of the game; it was more engaging than FarmVille had been and graphically more attractive. Part of it also had to do with the fact that FarmVille wasn’t going away no matter how critical the core games industry was of it and of Zynga (after two years and millions of lost monthly active users, the game is still at number two in our top 25 Facebook game rankings provided via AppData). Another part of it had to do with the growing acceptance that there’s a lot of money in social games. Inside Virtual Goods: The Future of Social Gaming 2011 estimates that the social games market will hit $1.25 billion this year. Although the market is starting to mature, it’s still a big opportunity. Today developers often spend just a few hundred thousand dollars to develop a social game over a few months, while a console game for only one platform can easily cost $10 million over a period of one to three years in development.
But the thing that reduced social games’ stigma enough for many in the core games world to review FrontierVille on equal footing with core games was the fact that it was developed by core game veteran Brian Reynolds. Reynolds came to Zynga after having worked on Sid Meier’s award-winning Civilization series and after developing his own strategy game series, Rise of Nations, at core game publisher Big Huge Games. His background piqued the curiosity of editors and lent FrontierVille enough ‘“street cred” in their eyes that a couple of my old colleagues at GamePro actually joined the game with me for a week or so while I reviewed it.
Reynolds isn’t the only core game developer to make the jump to social games. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen new social game ventures from Raph Koster, Richard Garriot, Brenda Brathwaite, John Romero, and Sid Meier. Even video game academic Ian Bogost got sucked into developing a social game on Facebook as he tried to make Cow Clicker into a social game satire. Where these big names went, bigger companies followed. EA bought Playfish in 2009 and Disney acquired Playdom less than a year later. Today, even core game franchises like Red Dead Redemption and Dragon Age 2 are migrating to Facebook in the form of social games.
So, really, what is there to miss about the move to social games?
The core games industry’s perception of social games might be changing, but as more core game developers migrate, it’s social games that will see the most significant changes. For better or for worse, the games will get more complex. Our early look at Dragon Age 2 Facebook tie-in game, Dragon Age Legends, reveals the tendency for core game developers to layer in robust gameplay systems instead of trying to keep everything bare-bones “click this” simple. The games will also get prettier as what Brenda Brathwaite called an “art quality arms race” forms between developers with enough money to spend on hiring art directors. We may also see some new approaches to monetization as games with a core games product attached to it can leverage an external physical product to incentivize gameplay. We’re seeing the beginnings of this strategy is Dragon Age Legends where playing the social game unlocks in-game content in the console game, Dragon Age 2.
Core games have historically had well established game genres, which helps a game appeal to existing fans — “Come play me; I’m a farming sim just like that other game you like!” Social games still have a way to go before new games will appeal to fans of existing social games in that genre.
On the monetization side, clearly defined genres can help a game monetize by connecting it with a loyal audience. Research in Inside Virtual Goods: The Future of Social Gaming 2011 suggests that a loyal, highly engaged audience is more likely to spend money within a game, even if the average revenue per user comes out to be lower than large games with a larger audience. I think a game would have an easier time attracting this niche audience if it used its niche as an advertisement.
The divide between core games and social games will probably never fully go away. However, no matter how different the two industries seem, one thing remains consistent: fun. The people who make core games and the people who make social games want to make games that people want to play. So while social game developers can’t necessarily count on a warm reception at the 2012 Game Developers Conference — I hear they’ve banished the Best New Social/Online Game award to GDC Online in Austin, Texas — we can probably count on a library of great games to play between now and then.（Source：Inside Social Games）