Social Media Games Win Awards, While Zynga Lacks Skin In The Game?
Do you remember last year this time, when you were inundated with requests on Facebook by your friends to either help farm a field or join a Mafia family? Zynga and Facebook were not only adding virtual goods to the social media mix, they were taking home hard cash in the millions. The popularity of social media games reached such heights, the "Game Developers Choice Awards" added the category of 'Best Social/Online Game" for the first time. And while Zynga's Farmville took home the honor in 2010, the number-one social online gamer came up empty just one year later.
In October, 2010, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) followed in the footsteps of GDC and added the new "Social Network Game" category to its upcoming British Academy Game Awards. This was followed up by a TechRadar report noting, "Expect Zynga to feature heavily – the San Francisco-based developer is responsible for some of the most recognizable names in the genre."
But again, while all the promos and press releases attached to this announcement described the category as that which would "specifically be for social network games, such as Zynga's Farmville," none of Zynga's games were nominated. The academy, which has celebrated the video game industry since the nineties apparently saw Zynga as losing a foothold in the 12 months that followed their announcement.
Actually the top honor went to Playfish's "My Empire" and the rest of the nominees which also included Playfish's FIFA Superstars recognized Popcap Games and Bigpoint.
Even in the "Multiplayer" game category, Zynga's games were no where to be found…
So what's the take-away from this? Is the lifespan of online social media games as short as 'one year?' Can they not sustain interest even when they all continue to add layers and new components - or will the social networking crowd's attention-deficit-disorder continually require 'new' games added to the mix to distract them in the future?
As noted, in the graphic novel satire, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks," Z-Man (aka Mark Zuckerberg) has long been content with the fact that online games were one of the major distractions that helped users get past some of the concerns they had with FB's privacy infringements.
Since Zynga's games scored $850 million in revenue, in its third full year, more than tripling that of its first year - and Facebook (it's 'Mafia' partner) has reportedly taken home $2 billion, a good percentage of which comes from its Zynga-partnership - it doesn't appear that not winning awards has diminished its popularity.
So Zynga definitely has skin in the game where it counts. It might not be recognized on the red carpet, but it's definitely a sure-fire box-office hit, where it counts. Take it from Z-Man who readily admits "he's automated time wasting," while adding a ton of cold cash to his coffers.