由于Zynga、EA的Playfish和CrowdStar等公司在Facebook游戏中独占鳌头，该平台对于独立游戏开发者来说并非理想之地。然而，游戏邦发现，Synapse Games早在2008年就开始了自己的独立之旅，该公司为两位老朋友在芝加哥联合创立的。继推出了两款大型异步在线多玩家纸牌游戏《War Metal》和《Tyrant》之后，Synapse Games通过找到自己的细分市场而大获成功。虽然该市场的用户数量并不多，但公司认为其依旧非常有利可图。至少营收足够支撑雇佣新员工及发行新游戏，无需求助外部投资。
Synapse Games于2009年推出了《War Metal》。该游戏月活跃用户（MAU）和日活跃用户（DAU）的鼎盛时期并不长久，用户数据也毫不起眼，但其DAU/MAU比例却颇为显著，约为30%。你们是如何判断《War Metal》取得成功的？
Alex Reeve（游戏邦注：Synapse Games总裁和首席设计师）：我们是从社区的综合反应来判断的。游戏发行时，玩家对其颇为着迷。他们自组团体，活跃于游戏和游戏论坛之中。游戏用户数量创公司历史最高。
Nick Germain（游戏邦注：Synapse Games副总裁）：凭借《War Metal》，我们首次踏上发展之路，且游戏达到临界规模（游戏邦注：临界规模是一个临界点,在这个临界点上有足够多的某项技术创新的使用者使用该创新,使得该创新可以处于自我维持的状态,人们通过感知规模来判断临界规模的是否存在）。我们直到2009年7月才推出游戏，而我们在2008年10月和2009年7月之间有陆续推出其他游戏，但这些游戏并非我们投资组合的组成部分。
AR：我们原本只是想要寻找有趣的点子。我们是传统的游戏开发者，一点儿也不看好粗糙、带有未来主义的Facebook游戏。我认为《War Metal》弥补了Facebook游戏的不足。Facebook平台还有很多其他的游戏（如异步MMO），但它们的主题与《War Metal》大为不同。
Interview: Synapse Games, Inc. — Go Niche or Go
With the Facebook games market heavily dominated by Zynga, EA’s Playfish, and CrowdStar among others, the platform no longer looks like a welcoming place to would-be indie game developers. Synapse Games, however, traveled the indie route starting in 2008 when two longtime friends in Chicago started a game company together. Through two asynchronous massively multiplayer online card games, War Metal and Tyrant, Synapse Games found success by appealing to niche markets. Despite small traffic numbers, the company says it is profitable. Profitable enough, at least, to hire new staff and launch a new game without outside investors.
Inside Social Games: Synapse Games launched War Metal in 2009. The game’s total monthly active users and daily active users peaked awhile back without getting very big, but we can see it has one of the higher DAU/MAU ratios for games, at around 30%. How do you judge War Metal’s success?
Alex Reeve, Synapse Games President and Lead Designer: We base it on a combination of community feedback [channels]. When the game launched, players got really excited about it. They formed groups and were extremely engaged on both the forums and within the game itself. The total number of users was higher than we had had before.
Nick Germain, Synapse Games Vice President: War Metal was really our first game to gain traction and get to critical mass. We didn’t release the game until July 2009. By then, we did have a few other games [...] that ran between October 2008 and July 2009, [but they] aren’t really part of our portfolio anymore.
ISG: War Metal is an entirely original intellectual property that you used to build your next game, Tyrant. How did you go about developing the concept for Facebook?
AR: Originally we were just thinking about what would be cool. We come from a traditional gamer background and we really didn’t see anything on Facebook that had a kind of grungy, futuristic feel. I think it fills a gap that’s on Facebook right now. There’s a handful of other [asynchronous MMO] games out there, but they all have pretty different themes than War Metal.
ISG: With core gamers not always immediately embracing Facebook as a gaming platform, do you find yourself sometimes catering to two audiences — one on Facebook and one on the web? We observe that Tyrant (pictured above) is featured on retailer GameStop’s game portal site, Kongregate.
AR: Yeah, what we’re seeing is a trend for those markets to merge. I think it’s still early in that [process], but the overlap between the two is growing.
NG: I think the market’s telling us a little something. Having put Tyrant on Kongregate, the way the [audience] is reacting to it there seems to come from a more traditional gamer background. We realize that there is crossover with the Facebook [audience], but Kongregate seems to us to be where the two are bridged.
ISG: Do you think games have a harder time finding an audience on Facebook because of the restrictions on viral channels?
AR: I think that’s probably been one of the biggest difficulties that we’ve had to overcome. The hardest hit was around mid 2009 when the majority of the channels started closing. We’ve kind of worked around that and the biggest opportunity we have for that is Kongregate. [The audience] is actually monetizing better than what we’ve seen on Facebook. So that’s going to be a key part of our future strategy.
ISG: Why do you think Tyrant is monetizing better on Kongregate than Facebook?
AR: I think it’s a better fit in terms of the market. They’re real gamers.
ISG: What is your growth strategy going forward? Will you expand on Tyrant for both Facebook and Kongregate?
AR: Yes, we are working on an expansion for Tyrant. When we make a game, we want it to have an extremely long lifespan. We expect Tyrant to last at least a couple of years. We’re hoping five years. We want to release expansions for it every two months. We’re also working on a new game [set outside] the War Metal universe. We’re branching out a little bit. At this point, I think most of our growth is going to be through Facebook marketing, more traditional ad spend.
ISG: Do you think Facebook is still a viable platform for indie game developers?
AR: It definitely is harder than it used to be to get in. I think looking at other platforms off of Facebook is probably going to be the easiest way to get a foot in. I think the important strategy for a small developer at this point is that you really have to go niche.
You can track Synapse Games’ War Metal and Tyrant on AppData, our traffic tracking service for Facebook games.（Source：Inside Social Games）