Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rise of Social Gaming

With my latest personal development project being a Facebook app, I couldn't help but notice that Facebook has become the largest social gaming platform on the internet.

So what is Social Gaming? Social Gaming is currently a huge phenomenon on the large online social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. These social networks offer their members/users FREE games. Most of these free games are casual games. They are targeted at or used by a mass audience and are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required. They usually require no long term time commitment or special skills to play.

What makes social gaming different from just plain old casual gaming is the network element. It adds a very addictive dimension by allowing their users to play with and against their friends, friends and acquaintances. It makes simple casual games much more enjoyable.

The games are written by Social game developers like Zynga and Playfish. Most of them monetize these games by selling virtual goods to their players as well as giving them offers.

Virtual goods allow players to have a better overall experience either by better customization of avatars or allowing them to level-up faster. For users unwilling or unable to pay for the virtual goods, a wide variety of offers are available which when completed will allow players to earn in-game currency. This in itself poses no outright danger but when you examine the offers, it will seem like a scam.

Some offers will ask you to take a quiz or a survey and ask for your mobile number. A code is then send to your phone via sms and the user is asked to enter the code on the site. This act will subscribe your mobile number to a monthly subscription for a pretty much useless service.

Another type of offer asks users to sign-up to receive a free CD or other product to try. The product is free except that the user needs to pay for shipping. What the fine print says though is that the user will be charged full price unless the user returns the product.

I have yet to hear about users here in the Philippines getting scammed by similar offers described above.

Please post what sort of offers you've done and did they have any detrimental effect?

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