Social Gaming – Not Just About Tending Your Farm On Facebook!

Mark Stephens

Social gaming is essentially the intersection between mobile gaming and social networks; it has become so popular that whole conferences and summits are devoted to it, not to mention a whole host of websites and teams of developers dedicated to pushing its boundaries.


While most people tend to associate social gaming with the style of games played on Facebook, like Farmville, Cityville, The Sims and Bingo Blitz, the social network site doesn’t have the exclusive rights to social games … in fact the vast majority of games available to play on your phone or tablet are not through the Facebook interface at all.

Defining Social Games

It helps, before we get into some nitty-gritty, to define “social games.” We can do that by highlighting some features that all social games have:

  • The ability to challenge other players on the network
  • They are turn-based
  • You have visibility of your opponent’s turns
  • Often there is a chat or messaging facility built into the game
  • Often able to be played casually and at your own pace

Criticism of Facebook Social Games

Most “mature” gamers consider the Facebook-style games to be overly simplistic – to put it mildly. Many are monotonous, repetitive and involve very little brain power or dexterity at all.

There has also been criticism about lack of true innovation and variation as the large game developers cash in on the high volumes of casual gamers who play their Facebook games over a cup of coffee or lunch at work.

Many smaller independent developers do not have the “muscle” to get their games on the Facebook platform anyway, so they are forced to find other outlets for the social games they create.

Non-Facebook Social Gaming

That’s not a term I just made up!

You’ll see with a search on Google that “Non-Facebook social gaming” is a very real phenomenon.

These games are often more innovative and, to an extent, break the mold of the typical social network games, by providing either more of a challenge in brain power or more innovative and engaging story lines….or both.

Their social element comes from the fact that they often create their own network of players, to whom you can connect and create challenges against.

Instead of playing the games through a web browser they may require app downloads and the games can be played on mobile devices like tablets and phones.

If you don’t believe that this element of social gaming is increasing, a recent study by SuperData Research, commissioned by Viximo, projects worldwide revenue for non-Facebook gaming will grow from $3.2 billion to $5.6 billion in the next two years.

Emerging markets in Russia and Brazil represent a lot of this increase and, while Facebook is clearly dominant in the US and Europe, Asia has their own social networks attracting huge amounts of people too – meaning more demand for games there.

So – the good news is you don’t have to be Zynga or EA Games to compete and developers can target other social gaming networks to help them get exposure and monetise their games.



MindFeud, the new game from Monkeybin, is a social game in all senses, though not playable through Facebook or a web browser at all.

It is very similar in concept to “Words with Friends”, but instead of using letters to make words you are making combinations of colours and shapes with your lines of tiles.

When you download the game for your iPhone, iPad or Android device, you create a username and are able to challenge any other Mindfeud player to a game; you can share the game with your friends so that you create your own network and run challenges between you.

Learn more about the actual game here or here

Download the game here (Apple) or here (Android)