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Triple-A Developers Failing at Social Games, Says Zynga

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Social games have, more or less, outgrown the rest of the game industry. At least that's how Zynga's Brian Reynolds sees it. The chief games designer of the social game juggernaut spoke with Industry Gamers, explaining how social games have grown and how the triple-A developers that want a share of the profit are going about it all wrong.

Reynolds thinks that the traditional game space will stay viable, but it will never be what social games are: “It's not going to always even be shrinking, but it's never going to be growing the way social is growing right now. It's never going to suddenly have hundreds of millions of players on a game or something like that. Those platforms don't have that potential.” This apparent reality is why many developers are taking a stab at social games.

In the last few weeks, we've heard stories about Rebellion, Insomniac, and others hopping onto the social game bandwagon. Reynolds warns that those looking to cash in may want to rethink their approach: “The important thing with social is to understand that the core of it is social. You can't just go write... Call of Duty and add Facebook functionality. You've got to make a game that's about socializing, make social the core of what you're inventing, and then build the game around that.”

While Zynga aren't necessarily masters of their craft (no matter how much success they're experiencing), Reynolds does offer some sound advice for aspiring social game developers: “Don't try to make a triple-A game and then try to figure out how to add the social into it. Make a social game and then figure out how to draw on your triple-A experience, to make it better, to make it more fun and more compelling.”

He's right, but I just wish he'd take his own advice.

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Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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