Brian Reynolds, chief game designer of Zynga, doesn’t believe download platforms on home consoles such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (and we can assume WiiWare) are big enough for the company’s brand of games. According to Reynolds, it doesn’t make much sense porting Zynga games like Farmville and Cityville to those consoles because the audience of Facebook members and mobile phone owners is much larger. “[Xbox Live’s] too small a demographic,” Reynolds told IndustryGamers, also mentioning that not all of his friends were on Xbox Live, but all them had accounts on Facebook and owned mobile phones.
Reynolds went on to say that mobile gaming is the obvious next step for Zynga due to the high consumer rate. “So when you think about the social potential of a platform … if we made a game on Xbox Live, I think—forgetting about the fact that I might have an artificially high percentage of friends that do it because of what my profession is—the number of anyone’s friends that’s going to be able to participate in the social experience is going to be a very small number so the amount of social capital that’s there isn’t going to be very high.”
Like any company, it’s all about dollar signs for Zynga. I can’t blame them for wanting to stick with the platforms that are going to make them the most money. When Reynolds says that download platforms such as Xbox Live are “too small” for Zynga’s games, though, I can’t help but think he sounds a bit brash. I understand that social games such as Zynga’s are hot right now, but they’re not ideal for the core gamer who wants a deeper experience. If I want a farm sim with some actual substance, I’ll play Harvest Moon or Rune Factory. If I want to build cities, I’ll fire up my copy of SimCity for the SNES. Those experience are more worthwhile to me than the overly simplistic design of games such as Cityville and Mafia Wars.
So will Zynga be keeping their games off of Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare? I sure hope so. I’d hate to see the online market of those platforms plagued with social gaming experiences that don’t offer much value. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m about to log onto Facebook and deny a Farmville request for the hundredth time.