Following my post yesterday disputing the worth of high production value, I wanted to talk about the most beautiful game I've yet to see on Facebook. It's Lucky Strike Bowling (in beta) by Large Animal Games.
If high production values make a difference, then Lucky Strike Bowling should be a megahit. Gorgeous graphics, as polished as a bowling lanes. The lighting effects are amazing. Sound effects, top-notch. It looks 100x better than Playfish's Bowling Buddies (though I think Bowling Buddies is more fun to play).
The gameplay is not innovative, it follows the standards for a bowling game, which make it perfect for my purposes.
Basically, I'm proposing that if Lucky Strike Bowling doesn't acquire a million monthly users (my threshold for a hit on Facebook), then high production values aren't worth it.
Sure, it's hardly a scientific study, and surely not even a valid one, but it's a fun one.
I'm putting Large Animal on the spot here. They can handle it. They're an award-winning company that's been designing casual games since 2001.
My interest in Large Animal Games is not simply because they've made a beautiful game. Large Animal Games is the first casual games company I'm aware of that has made a major push into the social gaming space, on their way to releasing the third game on Facebook soon.
Their first foray was Bumper Stars, a game that was much discussed at Casual Connect, the casual game developers conference. For many in the casual games industry, it showed that a casual games company could succeed on Facebook. Though, success is a relative term, as Bumper Stars currently has ~87,000 monthly active users, which is just an okay showing by Facebook standards. It barely puts them in the top 500 applications on Facebook.
I've heard Large Animal Games CEO, Wade Tinney speak about the social gaming space. He understands the nuances of the new platforms. With established casual games companies moving into the social gaming space, it will be interesting to see how Large Animal fares being at the vanguard. If they fail, it certainly won't be out of ignorance.
The first people to develop games for Facebook were not game designers, they were internet guys seizing a new opportunity. Now that game designers are moving in for realz, the established players in the social gaming space will be seeing serious competition.