Three leaders of social gaming from Playdom, Crowdstar and Zynga discussed a series of topics related to the fast growing virtual goods market and International opportunities.
Christa discussed that it’s not trivial to add a social layer to a traditional game, as obvious by looking at Civilization, an extremely popular PC game that has been ported to Facebook with moderate success. Playdom’s game Wonderhill tried to simplify the experience and give players a player-vs-player (PVP) option, and people seemed to enjoy it.
Niren pointed out that it’s $7 Billion on 1 Billion people, $2 Billion on 100 million people in Japan and the US is far below that earning per person, and if the virtual goods and social games model continue to match those markets, or even get halfway there, we’re still extremely early on the total amount of revenue that can be gained from virtual goods.
The panel agreed that there is a lot of interesting opportunities in the social, mobile and location-based gaming, because those are the areas where new ideas and opportunities will evolve. We haven’t really touched the social side of things, and Christa pointed out that innovating the way people connect with each other will probably be a very important part of the future.
Christa was supportive of Facebook Credits, and talked about the day when Facebook Credit cards will be available in tons of stores and people will easily be able to just drop a few Credits into a game that they enjoy. Mark Skaggs pointed out that young gamers think nothing of buying XBox points and Facebook Credits, and that will be a big business moving forward.
Niren pointed out that “fish where the fish are” is the right strategy, and right now they’re on Facebook. He also pointed out that Facebook will probably become even more important as the core of the web, and that means more people on the web will be accessible through Facebook.
Niren explained that as people stop paying $50 for boxed software, they will pay incrementally, and the number of whales in free-to-play games will go up.