并不是只有Gugnani才会有这种想法。在3月份，Pritha Krishna迷上了一款社交应用《Draw Something》，玩家可以在此绘制图像并让好友（社交网站上的好友）进行猜测。她说道：“很快地我便邀请了Facebook上30多名的好友一起加入这个应用中。我们频繁地交换涂鸦进行猜测。但是很快地我们也开始感到厌倦。因为在这里我们能做的只是不断猜测各种涂鸦的答案而已。”Krishna也表示，尽管她还留着这款应用，但是她现在登录游戏的时间已经大大缩减为两天一次了。
这便是社交游戏所面临的巨大障碍。玩家总是很容易对游戏失去兴趣。媒体研究和咨询公司Magid Advisors负责人Mike Vorhaus表示，游戏中的新颖性逐渐淡化以及“无聊感迅速膨胀”都是社交游戏迅速衰弱的主要原因。所以开发者们必须在面临越发严峻的挑战，也就是避免玩家完全抛弃游戏。
Business Insights的数据报告表明，印度社交游戏主要是面向女性用户，在2010年共有1800万女性玩家在玩社交游戏（而与此相比男性玩家的数量是1500万）。到2012年，该国社交游戏玩家已经超过了5000万。而对于游戏制作人来说，他们可以从中获得1美元（相当于52印度卢比）的每用户收益。Business Insight分析师预计这一数据将在2015年缓慢增长至1.14美元。
有社交游戏用户报告指出，如果开发者能够联合Facebook，Game Center，苹果关于iOS设备上的社交游戏网站等平台，那么休闲游戏玩家不仅能够更加轻松地购买虚拟商品，与好友进行互动，并且也能够跨平台使用不同资源了。不可否认的是，在印度拥有超过4500万用户的Facebook仍然是该国家最受开发者和玩家拥护的平台。Facebook所存在的最大优势在于游戏是交织存在于网站上，而这也正是玩家所期待的。Abhijeet More这个正专攻于工程学的年轻玩家说道：“我希望Facebook能够在所有游戏中统一使用Facebook credits，从而保证我在使用现金购买虚拟货币后，不会因为我已经厌倦某款游戏而浪费了这些货币。”玩过《CityVille》或《德州扑克》的玩家应该不会对“Facebook credits”（这是该社交网站上针对于所有游戏的默认支付和赠送虚拟礼物的方式）感到陌生。我们还不能在Facebook的手机应用上访问社交游戏，但是苹果iOS设备却让玩家能够通过信用卡直接在手机平台上购买并体验游戏。
开发者已经找到保持玩家上瘾的方法了。Games2win.com主管Raj Menon表示，他们希望玩家始终都能对其社交平台Appucino（即让用户能够在谷歌地图中快速找到自己最喜欢的地点）感兴趣。用户也可以在此挑战他们的好友或陌生人，并通过击败对方的分数而将其驱逐出自己的地盘。独立社交游戏开发者兼发行商Mango Games便认为，游戏内容的本土化便是吸引印度玩家的关键元素。该公司的新游戏《Don: The Social Mobsters》便是围绕着宝莱坞（位于印度孟买的电影制作中心）展开，而《Social Rummy》则是一款带有多个迷你变量的著名纸牌游戏。Mango Games区域主管Charandeep Singh Hattar说道：“建造农场，家园和城市的游戏理念已经过时了。现在也只有少数的印度玩家会玩这类型游戏。”意识到吸引印度玩家的注意非常困难，而让他们购买游戏内部功能更加困难，该公司便决定通过折扣去吸引他们的注意。Hattar表示：“我们必须建立一个健康的月活跃用户和日活跃用户基础去推动虚拟商品的盈利。而为了达到平衡，我们在那些使用印度货币所购买（现在也可以使用美元进行购买）的虚拟商品中提供了各种折扣。”玩家每天会在Mango平台上花平均5至7个印度卢比购买游戏，而开发者也通过不断添加新的模型去推动玩家的每日消费。Hattar还表示，他们现在迫切需要做的便是扩大游戏的虚拟商品目录和库存，以此提供给玩家更多虚拟商品选择。
Social games lose their ‘cool’
Shweta Gugnani, mother of a three-year-old, is done playing Cityville and Farmville—popular social network games where users build and maintain virtual cities and farms. Having spent Rs 500 on in-game items to make her virtual ‘city’ and ‘farm’ look awesome, Gugnani now says she has grown weary of them. “There was a time when every friend of mine was growing corn and buying stuff on Farmville to share them on Facebook. It was very addictive,” she says. “But after you achieve a certain level, the interest wanes, as there’s no new challenge confronting you.”
And Gugnani isn’t alone. In March, Pritha Krishna got hooked to a social app called Draw Something, where people would sketch pictures of objects which their friends (on social networks) could then guess. “Pretty soon, I had invited and linked up with more than 30 of my Facebook friends on this app. We exchanged our doodles furiously, trying to guess their names. But then it got boring. All you did was guess the same set of words,” she says. Even though Krishna still has the app on her iPhone, she logs on to it only once in two days.
This, rue gamers, is the hurdle facing social gaming. You lose interest in it too soon. The wearing off of the novelty factor and the “mild boringness arising with the games,” says Mike Vorhaus, head of analysis firm Magid Advisors, are some of the reasons for the decline in social gaming. So, the challenge looming before developers—to keep players from succumbing—is to keep aiming at the sweet spot.
Data collected by industry analyst Business Insights reveals that in India social gaming is majorly a feminine activity, with 18 million women players, compared to 15 million male ones in 2010. By 2012, there would be over 50 million social gamers in the country. For game makers, however, this translates into an average revenue per user (ARPU) of just about $1 (or Rs 52). Business Insight analysts estimate this to rise marginally (to $1.14 by 2015).
The social gaming market in India is also dominated by the youth—29 per cent of the players are under 18 and over half are under 30. To reach this critical mass, developers are looking to straddle across multiple genres, embracing a number of platforms including Facebook, iOS devices and also digital platforms on gaming consoles.
Tablets are also well suited to casual gaming, and the steady rise in the popularity of these is expected to provide a fillip to the social gaming market. This already is a convenient option for many like Freeda Elvira, who recently bought the new iPad, and claims spending over Rs 1,000 on gaming apps and social game purchases. “At just $0.99, you can download virtual goods for social games. This is far cheaper than any console game that costs upwards of Rs 1,500,” she says.
Consumer reports on the social gaming sector hint at the possibility of developers uniting on a platform such as Facebook or Game Center, Apple’s social gaming network on iOS devices, so that casual gamers can purchase virtual goods easily, connect with their friends and use resources across platforms. There’s no denying that with over 45 million Indian users, Facebook continues to remain the biggest platform for developers and gamers alike. Facebook’s strength lies in the fact that social games are interwoven into its network. That’s what gamers have come to expect. A young gamer, Abhijeet More who is studying engineering at Pune, says, “What I prefer is a uniform currency in the form of Facebook credits for all games which ensures that if I do purchase virtual credits with real money, they won’t be wasted because I lost interest in a particular game.” Anyone who has played Facebook-based games such as Cityville or Texas Hold ’Em Poker is likely to be familiar with “Facebook credits”, which is the default method of payment for all games and virtual gifts on the social network. However, while social games are not accessible on Facebook’s mobile platform yet, Apple iOS devices allow users to play and purchase directly on the mobile platform via a registered credit card.
Developers are already finding ways to keep gamers hooked. Raj Menon, the director of Games2win.com, is hoping to keep players interested with the company’s own social platform, Appucino, which allows users to capture their favourite locations on Google Maps. Users can also challenge their friends and strangers and dislodge them from their locations by beating their score. Mango Games, an independent social game developer and publisher, believes that localising the content is the key to reach Indian audience. The company’s new game, Don: The Social Mobsters, is based on a Bollywood theme and Social Rummy is a popular card game with several mini variations. “The concept of building farms, houses, cities, etc is now outdated. Only a handful of Indians can relate to such foreign content,” says Charandeep Singh Hattar, country head (Operation), Mango Games. Aware that Indian gamers are tough to please and even tougher when it comes to paying for in-game features, the company has decided to offer discounts to lure them. “It is important to have a healthy monthly active user-base and daily active users to drive monetisation via virtual goods and products,” says Hattar. “To strike a balance, we’re offering huge discounts on the purchase of virtual goods in Indian currency which until now was in dollars and without any offers.” Gamers on Mango’s platform are already spending an average of Rs 5-7 per day and the developer is adding models to expand the daily spend. The main emphasis, says Hattar, is towards broadening the virtual catalogue and inventory on games, offering users more variety.
Some critics believe that the social games market will simply become oversaturated and drown in its own excess. Social gaming, they feel, is in need of a controlled cull as there are so many options, most of them are free, and only a handful can be considered top quality. Casual gamers like More say, “For most gamers like me, games that don’t require the player to be tethered to a PC, Wi-Fi or 3G connection will receive a lot more play as they can be pulled out anytime, anywhere.” Are the developers listening?(source:Business Standard)