Although a relatively new approach to technology and community, social gaming has been taking the scene by storm. According to The NPD Group, almost 57 million people have been involved in some manner of social network game in the last three months. People who end up spending an hour a day watering their plants and feeding their animals in Farmville are certainly in popular company.
Helen Legatt over at BizReport, writes about the new trend,
“Although 35% of social network gamers are new to gaming, it’s clear that a lot of existing gamers have been drawn into the social network gaming arena as well,” said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier.
Will this spend on social gaming affect other gaming genres? Yes, says NPD, saying “social network games are also impacting spending on other types of gaming activities as gamers report spending 20% less on gaming overall since they started playing social network games.”
Businesses and corporations have been noticing this trend themselves, and there are many new offerings coming into play that will take advantage of it. Like Facebook Places, which readily enables the social gaming phenomena to connect with the physical location of players. Other corporations are quickly creating services that use the location of the customer—and their interaction with that corporation on-the-street—through apps to advertise, bring customers together, and bring them into their stores. For example, the launch of AT&T’s SCVNGR rewards program, consumers with the app on their cell phone will be able to collect points by visiting locations enabled with AT&T’s promotions.
Corporations involved in location-based social gaming will have a huge resource of data to mine on their customers as well as increased participation with their advertising, events, and brick-and-mortar store presence. With location-based apps, and the offering of rebates and coupons, they will be able to encourage customers to engage with each other, take new products hands-on, and even the possibility of social game enabled events seems on the horizon. Customer habits and mood about particular products, geographically weighted, will become extremely easy to mine as the location-based game paradigm will give corporations a great deal of insight into what drives their customers to their products, out to their stores, and to their events.
Another interesting evolution of social gaming, as compared to the history of traditional gaming itself, seems to be the extremely broad appeal. The NPD study cites that the legendary “gender gap” is far smaller, and other studies have shown that social gaming skews heavily towards women. This certainly seems to be the case for casual online games; but the study didn’t cover location-based gaming directly, so it will be an interesting revelation to see how consumer interest pans out across gender lines.