You’re on Facebook. What do you do to kill time while waiting for your BFF to upload photos from last nights crazy party? Play a game, in all likelihood. And that game is probably one of Zynga’s – Farmville, Cafe World or Mafia Wars. Heck, even if you don’t play one of Zynga’s social games, bets are that you probably are involved in some sort of social game or another.
Of the entire online population, 41% are involved in some sort of game on a social network. (Look at Alec Baldwin and Words with Friends, for a star-studded example of game-obsession).
For another crazy number, 26 million unique users play social games on mobile devices. Guess everyone is well suited to “have an app for that”, right? Even scarier, 100 million people play games on a social network – compared to the just over 11 million that are subscribed to World of Warcraft.
Take it a Step Further
Social media platforms have taken social gaming a step or two further than perhaps people initially expected – and this has only fueled the addictions of the masses. The first way that social gaming has stepped out of the traditional game environment is one that directly brings them revenue – the whole concept of “freemium” – that is, the idea that a specific set of items or actions or levels are free, but after that point if you want some other feature or access to a snazzy item for your farm, you have to pay. Usually the costs are low, maybe $2…but $2 charges can rack up pretty quickly.
There have been stories of children who had their parent’s credit card attached to their Facebook account and weren’t notified that they were being charged when they wanted to upgrade to some sort of paid feature, and ended up racking up a few thousand dollars of “freemium” charges. So – buyer beware!
Real World Integration
And then there are the social gaming networks that take it a step further by rewarding real-world action, learning or progress. We all like to get a gold star, and now we can get it from one of any numerous social accounts. These rewards are (mostly) not of any monetary value. But think about it – and I’m one to do the same – how many times do you check into Foursquare to a new place just so that you can see if you’re going to unlock a new badge? You get addicted to the reward – and these networks are banking on you coming back for more.
And then there are those networks like Codecademy (which gives you badges as you progress into geekdom – learn how to code and program websites) and Fitocracy (which gives you badges as you work out and track your fitness) that are much more directly related to the real-world achievements that occur in your life.
What kind of social gaming addiction do you have? Do you admit it? What is your favorite social game?