Monday, July 21, 2008

Where's the Social Gaming Chart? And why I, and many others, focus on Facebook too much

I decided to make the Social Gaming Chart a monthly feature. Mainly, because not enough interesting things were happening biweekly (and because I forgot to compile the data on Thursday, mea culpa.)

I often feel that games on Facebook get an undue amount of attention by bloggers. I thought about why I spent so much time covering it, while giving interesting developments in the wider web the short shrift. And I realized, it's because there is a leaderboard.

Duh. Any game designer could have told me that had I thought to ask. This is not an essay about the power of a leaderboard, so all I'll say about it is that Playfish's current design model is based around adding a leaderboard to a single-player casual game and look how well they're doing.

Of course, the reason that they're a leaderboard available at all is because Facebook releases the data on all its applications, giving us a reliable and (relatively) unfiltered view of individual successes in context of their peers. Apples to Apples.

On the larger web, we have to rely on data gathered secondhand by Hitwise, Comscore, Compete, Quantcast, and Alexa. None completely reliable, often challenged by companies (who then refuse to share their internal numbers), smaller sites are overlooked, and so we can can only paint an opaque picture. And worse for those companies, we don't have a reliable leaderboard, so bloggers talk about them less.

One of my favorite conference speakers, and I am hardly alone, is Daniel James, CEO of Three Rings. Because he shares his data. Entire business plans are built on the data he shares. If more online game companies were more forthcoming about their traffic, then they'd get a lot more ink and goodwill. Though I doubt blogger goodwill is worth much, and I doubt you can amortize it. (Yes, a financial statements joke. First and last hopefully.)

So kids, if you want to raise your profile as an industry be liberal with your data. I'll be happy to publish it.

Here's a list of charts from other branches of the games industry:
Casual Downloadable games -
PC/Console Games -
Mobile Games - coming soon. Story here.
MMOS - nothing. (
Virtual Worlds - Kzero is using Alexa data which is the most unreliable of all sources, IMHO.
Flash games - Hey Jameson, Mochi should totally do this. You guys have the data.
Social games (off Facebook) - nothing worthwhile
Casual Games portal - nothing (data aggregated with parent company data)
Casual MMOs - nothing
Other online games - nothing

Let me know if I forgot anything.

Final note: Going to be at Casual Connect all week if anyone wants to chat. bret_terrill at yahoo dot com.