To most game developers, the30 million users on Xbox Liverepresent a substantial market. Butwhen compared to the 500 million sitting on Facebook all day, Zynga isn't impressed.
Zynga has already expanded from its one-trick pony status on Facebook, bringing a handful of its popular online titles to Android and the iPhone. The obvious question is whether or not there are eyes on the console market, and the answer is an unabashed "no."
In a recent interview, the publisher's chief game designer Brian Reynolds said Xbox Live is "too small a demographic," noting "twenty or maybe even thirty percent of my friends might have an Xbox 360, but effectively 100% of them have Facebook and... probably 90% have a smartphone."
What sets Zynga apart from most publishers is the social aspect. A game like Farmville doesn't work unless you can bring in a whole swath of your friends to help.
On Xbox Live, "The number of anyone's friends that's going to be able to participate in the social experience is going to be a very small number so the amount of social capital that there is isn't going to be very high," said Reynolds.
Some Xbox users might disagree with that statement. On Facebook, you might have 1,000 friends but only 30 that you actually, "really" know, and maybe only a dozen of them would be interested in playing Farmville with you. Meanwhile, you might have 12 of your closest buds on Xbox Live, and because they're all gamers, all of them would be likely to play a game with you.
Still, as strong a statement as this is, we concede Reynolds' point. All you need to play Farmville is a phone or the internet (which most people own or have access to); conversely you need an expensive console and a gold account to play games on Xbox Live. Why bother porting games with such massive audiences toa smaller arena? Plus... we kinda don't want Farmville on 360 or PS3 - it's already plastered all over Facebook!
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Mar 21, 2011