Friday, September 5, 2008

Raptr, The New Social Network for Gamers: Will It Affect the Social Games Industry?

Raptr is a new social network for people who play games. They achieved the amazing feat of auto-detecting and pulling together game information from Xbox games, Flash games, browser-based games, PC games, and yes, even games on Facebook.

They're trying to solve a couple problems. 1. They want to make it easier to find your friends who are playing online when you are. 2. They want to make it easier to discover games you'd want to play.

If this sounds familiar to you, then you probably realize that this is exactly what SGN and Zynga were both trying to do for people playing games on Facebook back in the beginning of this year. Like Raptr, SGN even had a newsfeed of games that you're friends were playing.

It turned out that, as least on Facebook, people didn't care much to play games with their friends in real-time. Nor were the majority particularly interested in discovering other games on the Zynga or SGN networks.

Since then, both companies appear to have been more focused on being game development studios. Though perhaps, they both still have plans to expand the social capabilities on their network?

So where does that leave Raptr?

Players on Facebook don't care about their friend's gaming habits. Games are not the centerpiece around which the socialization of the majority of the Facebook audience rotates. Facebook is a communications platform with games on it. That isn't changing.

Raptr's appeal will be to people who care about their friend's gaming habits. That will be the hardcore gaming audience. The values of this audience revolves around their relationship to games.

I believe Raptr will absolutely be successful, much like Dennis Fong's previous company Xfire, the IM client for PC gamers. However, I do not believe it will expand its audience much wider than Xfire's audience (and who cares if it does since that company sold for 110 million dollars).

Bottom line: Raptr will enhance the social aspects of the hardcore gamer audience (an audience which is pretty social already due to the popularity of multiplayer games in that space), but it'll have no impact on games already on existing social networks.