Online business games – undiscovered, ‘behind the curve’, or of limited value?

I recently wrote a post about Zynga, an online social games developer (here).  Zynga is growing quickly, wth games that they develop having tens of milions of subscribers/players.  In that post I speculated that there could be a huge opportunity for a business to develop (or co-develop) a successful ‘social business game’.

In the meantime, I came across various examples of online business games, including ‘Energyville‘, an online game developed between Chevron (the energy company) and The Economist (the magazine), which was launched in September 2007 (press release). Energyville isn’t in fact a ‘social game’, but rather just an online game, but I thought that this would be a good opportunity to take the thoughts further, given its backing by two well known companies

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An outsider’s perspective of ‘Social Games’ (eg. Zynga’s Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc.)

Social Games are ‘computer games’ played on the internet, usually via a social networking site (eg, Facebook, mySpace, etc.), which involve interaction with chosen other people (usually nominated friends). In a sense they are a classic example of “Web 2.0”, being the development of the world-wide web to involve greater interaction between online participants.  They have piqued my interest, because a number of my friends are playing them on Facebook, and I really had no idea what they were about.

Companies like Zynga (the maker of some of the largest social games, and who I comment on further below) appear to be quietly growing into powerful market participants, despite mostly being hidden from the public eye (at least so far, most of the social games developers are venture capital funded).

Zynga has an excellent overview, presented by its founders and employees, in this YouTube video:

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