Opinion: Where’s My Meta Social Game?

Tue, Mar 23, 2010

Facebook, Features, Social

Like many of you, I spend a few minutes each day playing a variety of Facebook games (okay maybe more than a few, but who’s counting?), including a handful of each from Zynga, Playfish and Playdom. But after all my crops are harvested, pets are fed, cities are cleaned and cafe food cooked, I’m left feeling a bit… empty-handed.

After watching an amazing presentation by Jesse Schell from DICE today (which I highly recommend to everyone, despite your industry or interest), I started wondering – where is my meta social game? Why don’t my experience points (XP) from FarmVille and PetVille come together in some larger Zynga game? To that end, what about my Playfish Coins in Bowling Buddies, Restaurant City and Gangster City? Why can’t the points I earn for taking out mafia members translate into a way to buy new cute boots for my pet? Someone please explain!

Curiously, Zynga just started their catch-all Facebook fan page earlier this month. Surely the social gaming giant has considered letting players combine points across all their top titles into some special promotion, at the very least – right?

Games are everywhere – taking over everything from commutes and classrooms to consumer electronics and theme park rides. Maybe the success of the Facebook platform has come as a surprise, but it’s obvious to everyone at this point. Likewise, it (should be) obvious that social gamers are some of the most addicted players on the planet. It’s one thing to get them in your game, and another thing to get them in multiple games, but why not play them all?

Of course, Zynga’s cross promotions between FarmVille, Mafia Wars, PetVille, Cafe World, FishVille, YoVille (and more to come I’m sure) are a good start, but what if I don’t *want* to play Mafia Wars to get a Hot Rod Tractor that plows 9 FarmVille plots at once? Shouldn’t there be another way to reward loyal players without forcing another game on them entirely? Something more gentle… more overarching… more “meta” if you will.

I’d love a place to login after all my social gaming duties are done, and compare myself against other Facebook gamers in a broader sense. Isn’t that what social games are all about in the first place? Maybe I’m ranting, maybe I’m just a dreamer, but a meta game makes perfect sense to me.

What do you think? Would you want to earn coins for playing multiple Facebook titles from Zynga or Playfish, or do you think it’d give some players an unfair advantage? Does social gaming already take up too much time, or do you crave another level to top?

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Related posts:

  1. Soapbox: Devouring the Social Game Buffet – Why We Play
  2. What Zynga’s Game Closures Say about the Social Gaming Market
  3. What Makes a Social Game a Social Game?
  4. Social Game Distractions: PR Advice for a Generation Constantly at Play
  5. FarmVille Wins “Best New Social/Online Game” at Game Developers Choice Awards
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  • AzamKhan

    Definitely. It's a great point. It goes back to the gamification of life.. will a govt institution (influenced by international bankers) ultimately create a meta-game that ties in many smaller games such as brushing your teeth?

    It's bad to reward people for something they would intrinsically do, but since thats our fate, then Zynga should go all out. Aiming at the bartle types of Manipulators and Achievers, Zynga will need to create positioning and brand loyalty and what better way than to create a meta-game and then eventually learn alot about the players, what they like, collect as much data as possible and then tie the meta game to their real life, customizing the game experience to the breaks between their life.

    “Wake up Kate you have school in 45 minutes. Your breakfast is being prepared, meanwhile quickly feed your fish.” Yada Yada.

    “Kate you have 3 out of 6 achievements left to do for today and if you complete them you will win the concert tickets to the Hives. (and then have some of the achievements require a virtual good that you need to acquire by inviting diff. friends which the system could suggest to you as you carry your mobile phone and gain proximity to others who could cooperate in the game with you.”

    Hahah the thought of this makes me laugh and cringe at the same time.

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  • http://www.friskymongoose.com/ Kate Hancock

    I just realized I never replied to this, apologies! You make some great
    points and the idea of a life-wide meta-game also makes me cringe and laugh
    at the same time, lol. On the one hand it'd be great to feel rewarded every
    time you take out the trash, but on the other hand, it'd be seriously
    obnoxious to get nagged not only by mom/wife, but also by your social game
    if you DON'T take out the trash. One step at a time I suppose ;)

    I just posted a new 2-part editorial if you're interested in more on this
    subject. Here's part 1:
    part 2:

    Thanks for reading and for the thoughtful comment – rock on!