Why Social Networking Games need to die.
There's too many Villes, Socials and Tap Places games out there, and they're ruining the reputation of gaming, with timers, freemium content, and just not being fun.
Disclaimer: I haven't actually played every game mentioned on this list, but I have friends who have played them. Plus, in my experience, I find that if you've played one social networking game, you've played them all.
Social networking games are a multi-million dollar industry. There are over 65 million registered players just playing Cityville, the most popular of the genre. But despite all this, the gaming industry needs it to die. Why? Because they give a bad name to video games, for a multitude of reasons, and these are just to name a few. Here is why social networking games need to die.
The Stupid Time System
Worst Offender – Farmville
Do you know why you play games? I’m not saying it’s the same for everyone else, but I can hazard a guess that for a majority of us, it’s for escapism. We need to get away from all of our responsibilities, such as chores, work, school, etc. What do all of those things have in common? They all require you to do something by a certain time, and that’s where social networking games start to have problems. Farmville is the worst offender, requiring that not only do you wait patiently for your plants to ripen, but you have a limited time to harvest them before they go bad, require you to plan a game during a specific timeframe. Imagine if in Starcraft for example, you had to wait for everyone of your buildings to take a few hours to build, and if you forgot to log back in to confirm it was built, you’d lose it. There’s no reason to have to schedule games into our lives. But this isn’t unheard of, many people are hardcore World of Warcraft players who schedule a time for their raids with other people, but there are a lot of other problems WoW doesn’t have, such as…
Lack of Freedom/Limited Play Time
Worst Offender – City Story
Sure, people plan raids in WoW, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything in the game until the time of the raid. Whereas if you look at a social networking game, after you’ve watered all your crops/ collected all your money/ fed all your animals, there’s not much you can do until the next harvest is ready. You can walk around and look at things, but there is nothing to do in the meantime. Imagine if in a game like SimCity, every time you put down a building, you couldn’t do anything until it was finished being built, taking anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to finish. But wait that’s not right, there is something else you can do in the meantime, you can visit your friend’s farm/house/city and help them out, unless…
Not Even Remotely Fun Unless Your Friends Play
Worst Offender – Mafia Wars
…Unless of course none of your friends play the game to begin with. There are many games that are more fun with the addition of your friends, MMOs being the prime example, but that’s never a problem, because you can always meet friends. But unless you’re on Facebook solely for the purpose of playing Mafia Wars, the only people you will be friends with in the game are your actual friends, and unless they are already playing or you can convince them to start, you’re not going to get very far. Imagine if you were playing New Super Mario Bros., but could only get past the first world if you had 3 other friends playing with you? But it’s not that bad, there are ways to get ahead in the game, it’s just going to cost you…
Stupid “Freemium” Crap
Worst Offender – Frontierville
Oh what’s that? You want to keep playing even though you’re out of energy/seeds/money/fertilizer for the day? And you don’t have any friends to help you out? That’s not a problem! For a low fee of just a few dollars, you can practically own everything in the game, without actually having to do that annoying “playing” thing. Just charge your credit card for $1 and you have super cash which you can use to speed up your harvests, get more money, or just buy ridiculous crap with it! Come on it’s just a dollar, is it really that big of deal in the scheme of things? Well, it wouldn’t be if all I needed to do was get the stuff in your game, assuming I want to pay, but there’s another problem…
There’s Too Many Games!
Worst Offender – Every knockoff, every company trying to hop on the wagon.
Sure I could pay a dollar and buy a stupid looking chair or crop or building, but those who play these games often find themselves playing others, and while it may just be a dollar here or a dollar there, when you multiply that over multiple games, you’re spending more money than you planned on nothing! Not only that, but because there are so many games, people are trying to play them all at once, and they can’t because their friends are playing FarmVille instead of FarmStory, or CityVille instead of Sims Social. But still this really can’t be that bad, it’s getting people into games right?
They Give a Bad Name to Video Games
Worst Offender – The Sims Social
A month or two ago I was in my living room playing the Sims 3 on my laptop. My mom walked in and asked what I was playing and I replied, “The Sims.” Her response was, “Oh, I played the Sims on Facebook, I got bored of it really quickly.” Whereas other casual gaming trends are helpful to gaming, as much as I may hate them, such as motion controls and casual games like Angry Birds, you can’t deny they are getting people into gaming, whereas social networking games do the opposite, frustrating the player until they give up out of boredom or the realization that the game is pointless. And why are these games pushing people away?
They’re Just Not Fun
Worst Offender – ALL
If you’ve never tried a social networking game, it’s probably because you didn’t think it would be any fun, and you’d be right. I’ve asked friends and family, hardcore and casual gamers alike why they play social networking games, and the overwhelming response was, “It’s addicting.” But addictive does not necessarily mean fun. I inquired to all of these people whether their game was actually fun, and most of them looked at me dumbfounded, like it had never occurred to them that it should be fun. It’s sad, but we’re so entranced by the need to harvest our crops, or buy that new chair for our Sim’s house, that we forget that we’re supposed to be entertained by these games.
That’s my thoughts on social gaming, I know it’s more than likely here to stay, but just because it does stick around doesn’t mean it should. What worries me is the trend of more mainstream games going into casual social networking games, and the future of gaming as a whole. It’s much cheaper for a company to make a simple click and collect game than an immersive hardcore game, but it not something that I want to see. But if in 30 years we should find ourselves waiting ten minutes for Master Chief’s ammo to recharge then I want it to be known that I called it. I hope you enjoyed my rant, please comment and subscribe, I'll be posting new blogs every week.