In previous posts I have talked about how the image of gaming has changed in recent years. No longer is it considered the domain of idle teenagers with nothing better to do, largely because their mums and dads are just as likely to be playing too. There was more evidence this week that gaming is good for you! Two separate reports looked at the effects of playing video games on one’s brain and how social gaming was affecting charitable contributions. The notion of gaming for good, it seems, is gathering pace.

If you ever doubt the power of the ’social’ element of social gaming we need only glance towards some of the phone and console makers to see what happens when you are slow to react; there are plenty of examples about how the social element can rapidly work for or against you. Ultimately, if you are not paying close attention to the ever-changing concept of ‘social’ then you can quickly get left behind…

I admit that we have allowed ourselves a few smirks since Zynga went public and then proceeded to self-destruct. But one good consequence of its decision to go public for the rest of us is that investors want to know the details about how the money is made (or lost in the case of many Zynga games). That means the rest of us learn more about monetisation. Zynga is only interested in making money, but it remains a fascinating creature. And with the information all being public, we are able to freely pick over its bones as the flies start to swarm around the remains!

Do you Yahoo? Nope? Thought not. But a lot of people do – especially in the US, which accounts for almost a third of its traffic and a big proportion of its claimed 800 million users. In fact Yahoo remains one of the Top Ten sites in the world and one of the Big Three search engines along with Google and Bing. The network recently took the plunge and launched a social game development platform in a bid to attract some of the talent that has been creating games for the online social media giants like Facebook and on the mobile platforms like Android and Apple iOS. Is it too late…or better late than never?

Although online gambling sites have come under the hammer of regulators around the world, social gaming has, until recently, had a less bumpy journey. However, the lines between gaming and gambling have become increasingly blurred with ‘social gaming’ often being used interchangeably to refer to hardcore poker sites as well as innocent farming or quiz games. This is reflected in a recent move by the UK that could open the floodgates for tighter regulations in other countries. Could they be coming to a mobile phone or tablet near you soon?

A decade ago Mark Zuckerberg was a nineteen year-old a long way from a personal fortune of almost $30 billion. Working in his dormitory at Harvard University he released "Thefacebook" on February 4, 2004. Within three years of that, he was already a billionaire, and most of us know (and have participated in) the rest of the story. Facebook has certainly changed the way we do many things and, since 2009, it has had a profound influence on gaming. What are some of the most important gaming changers in the past decade?

An “Android First” mentality means developing for Android ahead of other platforms – and this approach has worked well for some. One such developer is US-based Kiwi Games – maker of titles like Shipwrecked:Lost Island, Westbound, and Hidden Object: Mystery Estate. Its strategy of focusing on Android has enabled it to boast multiple games in Google Play's Top 100 Grossing list, with many millions of downloads....

UK game developer King remains one of the hottest properties in social gaming, with the success of Candy Crush Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Bubble Witch Saga, propelling it to the top. Facebook still lists the first three of those games in its Top 5, with Candy Crush way out in front of any other game, with a frankly ridiculous 140 million monthly active users! Imitation is a form of flattery that Zynga turned into a form of theft...but if you were to try to imitate Candy Crush Saga, how would you go about it? What features would you need in the look, feel and mechanics of the game, without it actually being a copy?

Does one or two less extra clicks make a big difference to you? It does to many gamers. When you are on your iPad, iPhone or PC how do you login to that game you are itching to play? Chances are that you don’t go to the app itself but you can login via one of the social networks you are already on. Convenience is big in gaming – and anything that makes it easier to login, play the game or win is immediately grabbed – as recent game login statistics show.

Intellectual property is big news in the tech space - just ask Apple and Samsung how many billions of dollars? When it comes to gaming some notable companies have walked roughshod over others in recent years and claimed the moral high-ground afterwards. Yes we’re looking at you Zynga! There is never a dull moment here and new wars are brewing with one of the biggest names in social gaming headlining the news recently: King.

Well, actually the name change hasn’t happened yet. But it may be a matter of time, if Facebook’s director of games partnerships knows what he’s talking about – and we assume he does. The targeting of tablets for Facebook gaming is not something we should be surprised about, as smartphone usage starts to reach almost saturation point in some areas of the world while tablet uptake continues apace; Facebook understandably views this as a major area for growth, which fits in with their strategy of targeting mobile and mid-core gamers in 2014.

Jan

21

MindFeud becomes BoardRush & Friends

Haakon Langaas Lageng

Now that BoardRush & Friends has been launched, one can’t help and compare it with MindFeud. The game rules and concept are still the same but there are also several noteworthy differences regarding the gameplay parts.

The subject of monetisation is never far from the lips of social game developers. Back in the days when money was made from the original purchase price of the game it was relatively simple. Nowadays though, freemium games rule the roost, and the ever-developing trends of how to make a dollar are interesting to follow. As a social gamer, what can you expect this year from developers’ attempts to monetise their games?

Jan

4

The world of gaming has introduced several new words into the dictionary – one of the latest being ‘gamification’. This is the process by which typical gaming features like point scoring and competition are applied to typically non-gaming contexts, often associated with a particular product or service. The point of this is generally to enhance engagement and increase interest levels, learning, and/or enjoyment. Most commonly it is being used in marketing to increase customer engagement.

Facebook has made no secret of the fact that it views 2014 as the year when harder core gaming hits its platform in a big way. Along with mobile, it is a key focus of the social network in the New Year. But hardcore gaming is traditionally associated with dedicated servers accessed from powerful PCs and gaming consoles; it doesn’t immediately lend itself to the world of free gaming on social media sites, using iPads or Android smartphones. What are the main challenges to creating games that can cross the divide? Here are five of the main ones….

Facebook remains a pretty good barometer for where gaming is heading, generally, and especially when it comes to social games. So when the huge social network announces its top games for the year and the game genres that are growing in popularity, most developers and game lovers want to listen. What’s hot and what’s yesterday’s news? And what are we likely to see more of as we venture into the New Year?

Gaming means many things to many people: dexterity, brain power, strategy, fun, downtime, relieving the boredom, competition…the list goes on. But there is a growing category of social games aimed firmly at something larger: improving the world. Social games designed to promote specific positive change in the world are appearing more in the game charts, again demonstrating what a powerful medium gaming is these days and how the perception of it has gone through a “makeover” in recent years.

We now know that gaming is good for you again, but what specifically can social gaming bring to planet YOU? How does it improve you? What skills does it bring? Does it make you a better person? Will it mean you do the washing up more often? Below are seven of the personal benefits you can receive from tapping away at that screen, working that joystick or plain old keyboard banging

Fat, spotty teenagers peering over a discarded heap of pizza boxes as they clutch their controllers - a common image that is traditionally conjured up when gaming is mentioned. All that’s changing. People are being forced to revise their mental image of gamers as the social revolution of the past few years takes gaming to the masses. The fact is - your mum is just as likely to be playing as your son. That’s just one of five myths about social gaming and gamers well and truly dispelled below….

Nov

16

You may not care what people say…you’re going to make sure your farm gets tended, your candies get crushed, your autos get thieved, your tombs get raided and your birds are made angry. But you might also be pleased to know that it’s all okay again. It’s not a waste of time or money anymore. Gaming is good for you again – officially!

With more bandwidth and increasingly powerful mobile devices, we are seeing more complex and graphic-intensive social games in the app stores; and a new genre of “midcore” gaming is attempting to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual gaming. But another entirely different category of games has captivated people presumably since they first started communicating…