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社交游戏市场成熟迹象预示其发展前景良好

发布时间:2011-12-15 09:07:47 Tags:,,

作者:Leigh Alexander

Facebook游戏平台的发展历经坎坷。首先,行业并不认同其游戏算是“真正的”游戏。随后,在Facebook游戏终获行业认同之后,它们又被视为是操控玩家的廉价老虎机。

目前普遍关注的话题是,这项由反馈数据驱动的行业被视为泡沫经济。有些人表示,部分游戏独霸市场的局面压缩了其他游戏在该平台的生存空间。而在Facebook病毒性渠道的长期演变下,这些少数游戏也变得越来越难以不断获取和留住用户。

FarmVille(from geek)

FarmVille(from geek)

12月16日Zynga IPO就是此等忧虑的关键路标,随着公司用户量的缩水,其部分产品已经推迟发布。同时,某些关于Zynga公司的负面报道(游戏邦注:例如雇员不满,用户流失加剧)相续浮出水面,使Zynga业务环境愈发显得危机重重。

《CastleVille》是Zynga旗下质量最高的游戏,但是其成长依然无法挽回其他游戏发布至今的用户损失,业界都在猜测快速成长的Facebook游戏是否会在其到达巅峰期后瞬间土崩瓦解。

假如目前的Facebook游戏确实存在不确定性,但是认为崩盘即将显现还为时过早。我们认为这个平台正日趋成熟,而且它还有继续成长的机会。

最令人感到振奋的成熟信号是,传统游戏开发领域开始制作社交和手机游戏来满足硬核玩家诉求,社交游戏平台上庞大用户群体,如果休闲或传统游戏做法不能被用户所接受,那么这种新形式的游戏或许会通过技术来改善其体验,为游戏领域带来些新鲜的气息。

无论大型社交游戏产商发生了什么事,无论某些人对这种游戏模式的持续性有多悲观,能够准确定位“忠实”玩家的开发商仍将在这个平台上发展下去。以下是部分原因:

1、社交游戏目前还处于起步阶段。主机领域长期和成熟的硬件循环衍生出众多分支。传统开发的优势开始变小,许多制作者掀起的狂热情绪也已经趋于平静。对于某些开发商开说,这意味着需要冷静和稳定下来,追求真正的创新。对于一些开发者来说,这意味着他们需要寻求新的环境,用更小更为独立的团队来探索全新的游戏制作方式。

手机和社交领域提供了众多机会,大量新手机和社交游戏工作室都是由经验丰富的开发者创建。前BioWare和Pandemic首席执行官Greg Richardson创办的手机和网页游戏初创公司刚刚募资了1500万美元,前动视成员Chris Archer最近也已创建工作室,目标是将FPS题材带到Facebook平台上。

2、质量优势开始发挥作用。Facebook游戏普遍受到的批判是它们的俗套,以往它们都是复制那些已经流行的机制并不断从中提纯。即便是该领域内广受指责的Zynga,也因《CastleVille》而创造了极吸引人的游戏体验。确实,从其根源上来说,《CastleVille》还是款普通的Facebook游戏,玩家所要做的就是种植和赚取资金,收发礼品和点击鼠标等,但是其外观和感觉已经同该公司以往的产品大相径庭。

游戏美术效果看起来很棒,甚至有自己的风格,角色丰富且看起来很舒适。Facebook上的视觉和用户界面的质量迅速提升,该领域开发者最好擅用Facebook平台所提供的技术,提升用户期望,重新吸引那些脱离此类游戏的玩家(他们曾不满早期Facebook游戏质量低劣的现象)。

3、游戏玩家已经做好准备。激情的传统玩家和Facebook游戏用户之间的论战已经有所缓和。对于之前嘲笑过Facebook游戏过于简单或者厌恶其盈利模式的玩家而言,使用社交媒体已经成为他们生活中的一部分。玩家已经习惯于在他们的社交生活中使用Facebook和智能手机。

动视的精英打算将《现代战争3》融合到社交网络中,《无尽之剑》的大获成功表明iOS平台也可以实现AAA级游戏体验,几乎所有经营专属游戏的开发商都考虑通过绑定Facebook或手机应用来吸引更多的玩家。这些迹象表明,玩家已经不像以往那样对Facebook游戏充满敌意,尤其对那些他们觉得熟悉或喜欢的题材。

Facebook上的那些大型公司或许正遭遇发展瓶颈,但是他们在手机和社交游戏领域所铺下的道路也为其他公司创造了许多机会。总之,我们有理由相信社交游戏领域的未来一片光明。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦)

Opinion: Signs Of Life, Maturity In Social Games

Leigh Alexander

The Facebook gaming platform has never existed other than beneath a certain pall of anxiety. At first, it suffered from the perception that its games weren’t “really” games. Then, once Facebook games were brought into the fold and accorded a grudging acknowledgement from the industry, they contended with being viewed as manipulative, cheap slot machines.

Now the prevailing concern is that the intense, metrics-driven business exists in an unsustainable bubble. The market dominance of a few has made it impossible for the platform’s offering to stay rich, some say, and it’s getting harder for those few to continue acquiring and maintaining users amid long-term evolution for Facebook’s viral channels.

Zynga’s highly-anticipated IPO on December 16 is a key waypoint for this anxiety, as the offering saw delays amid declines in the company’s user base. Around the same time, a pair of high-profile articles about the consequences of the company’s reported high-pressure environment — disgruntled employees and stress over user attrition — surfaced, helping contribute to the environment of uncertainty around the business for which Zynga is seen as bellweather.

As the growth of Zynga’s CastleVille, which is far and away its highest-quality title, fails to meaningfully offset the decline of its other games released to date, buzz and whispers wonder if the heyday of fast-growing Facebook gaming may suddenly choke on the end of its own chain.

But if we accept naysaying and uncertainty is the order of the day for the Facebook space, then once again it may be too soon to assume a grisly crash is ahead. We’re seeing the growing pains of a maturing platform — one that has the opportunity to continue to grow even if Zynga itself is headed for a big market correction, as many seem to believe.

The most heartening sign of this maturation is the interest of the traditional game development space in making social and mobile games that appeal to the core player. There is a multimillion-strong addressable userbase on social gaming platforms, and if casual or traditional paradigms are failing to hang onto them, it’s this new and different perspective that can leverage its years of experience with tech and community to bring a breath of fresh air to the space.

No matter what happens to the big social guys, and no matter how pessimistic some might be on the sustainability of those game models, developers that target a more “serious” gamer will continue moving toward the platform. Here are some reasons:

It’s a startup phase. The long, mature hardware cycle in the console space has created a boon for other sectors. The advances and challenges in traditional development begin to narrow, and the leaps-and-bounds excitement on which many creators thrive has plateaued. For some developers, this means the comfort and stability to pursue real innovation. For others, it means they’re seeking environments where they can work with smaller, more independent teams to explore brand new ways of doing things.

The mobile and social space offers many that opportunity, and news of mobile and social studios founded by experienced developers is plentiful: Former BioWare/Pandemic CEO Greg Richardson’s young mobile and browser start-up just raised $15 million, and Chris Archer, formerly of Activision, has founded a studio that aims to bring the FPS genre to the Facebook platform. That’s just news from this month.

The quality advantage has begun to matter. The common criticism of Facebook games is their formulaic nature, as the bones of its business has historically been copying mechanics that work and keeping production values. But even Zynga, which gets much of the blame for shaping that aspect of the space, has a charming game in CastleVille. True, at its root it’s still basically another Facebook game — farm and earn, gift and click — the look and feel of it is vastly beyond anything the studio has done.

The art is wonderful, even stylish; the characters are whimsical, rich and a pleasure to look at. The visual and user interface quality bar on Facebook is ramping up feverishly, and the space better understands how to use tech on the platform. Not only will this raise user expectations, but it might also attract those accustomed to working in high-fidelity environments that might have been turned off the platform by the simplistic, cartoony flavor of its early entrants.

Gamers are ready. The cultural war between passionate, engaged traditional gamers and Facebook titles has gentled some. That’s because for all the players who might have scoffed at Facebook titles being too light, or who might have mistrusted their monetization strategy, use of social media has become a part of daily life. Players are so acclimated to the use of Facebook and smartphones for their social lives, and to making small content payments on traditional games that the stratification between Facebook games and what they’d call “real” ones is more of a gray area.

Activision’s major Elite initiative aims to wrap Modern Warfare 3 in a social network, the Infinity Blade games show off what AAA can do on the iOS platform, and nearly every developer at work on a major franchise considers creating a Facebook tie-in or mobile app to help players socialize around its property better. All of this cross-pollination means that gamers will be less hostile toward games on Facebook than before, especially if it’s in a genre they find familiar or likeable.

Perhaps the big guys on Facebook are struggling to sustain their growth, but the road they’ve paved to a mature, connected mobile and social gaming platform has created many opportunities for others. The social gaming space has an enormously bright future ahead of it. (Source: Gamasutra)


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