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Apps 55753818692 707621192 74268b06ef5761b4db7837fadceb904c

Actually I do think you can both as long as you make social publishing tools an option or something you reward rather than an obligation. Make it easy for the evangelists to evangelize.


'Something you reward' is exactly what obligations offer. It's a transaction, and after a little while other users of the platform know it.

Offering social options (for example, the sharing buttons this post) without any hint of reward would actually be a way to evangelise though because there is no transaction.

Thanks for the comment!

Alex Swanson

I also disagree with your assertion that you can't do both. Talk to hard core Sims Social or Castleville players and you will find people who actually enjoy the obligation-oriented mechanics and willingly evangelize the product as well.

I think that there is a common misperception among game developers, even inside the social space, that gifting, crew mechanics, and other "false" virality automatically instil some form of resentment in the player. While this is true for many players, I do not think that observation supports that this is true in all cases, particularly when you are talking about the new breed of players whos introduction to gaming was through these types of mechanics.

I also think that you are correct that respect is key, but disagree that request-based mechanics are inherently going to be perceived disrespectful by all players.


Hi Alex,

That's the illusion of massive numbers. As I mentioned in the post, any sufficiently large breeds communities, such as several Mafia Wars tribes that grew up around the game at its height.

However it's a largely outlier behaviour. When Mafia Wars stopped being actively advertised by Zynga about 6 months ago its user numbers started dropping like a rock and have continued to do so, and despite taking on much of the promotion Mafia Wars 2 is showing considerably less engagement. Contrast that with games like World of Warcraft or EVE whose ability to retain an audience is vastly less reliant on constant marketing because the service they provide generates genuine loyalty.

The resentment you're talking about is not unique to gamers. Spam is spam, and everyone on every social network hates spam just as much as they ever did on any other service. It breeds a lack of loyalty or likeability in every other context, and the same is true on Facebook. It's not magic.

There is no magic bean effect going on in the social networks (that, if anything, is the misperception). It's actually a very ordinary business fuelled by a very ordinary mass-marketing model of ubiquitous advertising to acquire attention, and it works by churning through gigantic numbers of people.

Thanks for the comment.

Joe Cooper

I have a question, maybe it's a worth a post.

I played Sims Social; I was pressed to a bit by a friend and I kept getting gifts and such and Sims 2 is one of my favorite games so I tried to play it.

But I found it significantly less engaging than Farmville; so much of the play dynamics of Sims had been stripped away (and music and fun animations) that literally all I could see there was "click on things, numbers go up", like some sort of Cow Clicker joke but with more art.

In Farmville you at least have to think about when you'll be at a computer before you select a crop - and to me this sort of "clock game" is bare minimum to qualify as a game - but there doesn't seem to be that here. I'm not sure that I even see a skinner box.

In short, it was hopelessly flat and boring. I don't consider it anti-resonant with me and I even liked Sims, but this wasn't working. This is in line with the mental model of "what games are" that I got from here...

So the question is; why does this work with people? What am I missing?


Hi Joe,

Not meaning to sound glib, but I think the first question is "Does it work with people?"

The Sims Social is losing users at a massive rate according to Appdata.


Darius Ouderkirk

Very interesting post. It made me wonder about something though. In World of Warcraft, having friends join the game allows you to go on raids and participate in other activities that can't be done solo. So that seems like a pretty good reward for getting your friends to join.

Is the difference here that there are many other players already playing. So if you wanted to, you could do the raids with them instead of getting your friends to join the game?

Does this mean that you could circumvent this effect by giving people a reward for working with other people, and making it easy to invite their friends, but also allowing them to work with existing game players?

Joe Cooper

I guess that is the first question. Somewhere I got the impression that it had millions of users. In any case, I feel much better now. For a bit there I had no idea what was going on.


It does. What I mean is that it's losing a lot of them. It's dropped about 10m MAU in the last 30 days, and gone from over 8m DAU to 5m.

I interpret this as EA being willing to really spend to acquire customers, but maybe they've eased off now and the game is settling.

So is it the case that the majority took a look at the game but didn't stick around? I think so. Will it develop a steady audience? Probably. Not everyone has played the original, by a long shot, so even a stripped down version is fun for them anew.

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