One of the many ways Facebook users interact with one another is through a new generation of social games led by FarmVille. The application allows users to simulate real-world farming by growing crops and raising livestock. The runaway success of FarmVille and other social games such as Zoo World, Happy Aquarium, Pet Society and Restaurant City has spawned an industry that generated an estimated $725 million in the US alone in 2009 and is expected to triple by 2012.
For all its success, however, the social gaming industry faces serious hurdles. Some of the industry’s past monetization tactics have been criticized as Internet scams and are likely to face continued scrutiny.
Further, recent tensions between FarmVille publisher Zynga and Facebook brought to light the fragile equilibrium that binds the developer community with the largest social gaming platform. Although the two parties averted a full-out war, any future skirmishes could derail this emerging industry from its forward course.
The next few months will be critical in determining how the social gaming industry can weather these challenges and continue to attract tens of millions of players to its virtual farms, restaurants, cities, zoos, aquariums and card tables.
Key questions this report answers:
- How many people in the US are playing social games?
- How much revenue do social games generate?
- What are the demographic characteristics of the social game population?
- How are these games monetized?
- Who are the top social game publishers and which titles are most popular?
- How will tensions between leading game publishers and social networks affect the future of the industry?