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Addiction and Profits in the Land of Casual Gaming

It’s the newest buzzword: Micro-transactions. What does it mean? Money. Who are corporations, social networking sites, and your average feeder in-between getting this money from?

The answer is “casual gamers”. What is a casual gamer? These are the people who play mini-games, or games which focus on a few tasks. They won’t go out to the video game store, and invest in the latest console.

They will, however spend hours on games like Farmville, Vampire Wars, or Mafia Wars, in between frequent checks on the status updates of friends. I know, because I have often made fun of my wife for checking her pies in Cafe Ville, Farm Kitchen, Pie wars, or whatever they call it.

How are corporations extracting this money, from people who are playing “free” games? It’s very simple: Leveling and doing tasks in these games takes a long time, lot’s of dedication. But, you can grease the skids a little, through buying various tokens, trinkets, and special items, with real money.

How much? Well, I joined a “casual game” recently, over at Kongregate. And I should really stop complaining about how much time my wife spends on Cafe World. Really. These little games are addictive, because they were built to be so.

They are Pavlovian in their reinforcement. Lots of little, meaningless rewards that reinforce your behavior are immediately available upon completing some equally meaningless task. The need to acquire money, grow your empire larger, make that stat kick up a tick: Those factors are all there in abundance.

The worst problem is, even though you are aware of the problem’s existence, you are helpless to do anything about it. You must grow, or stagnate. There is always something that you could do, to incrementally boost your progress. It is a demand on your potential, as a human being…not to fail, walk away, or outright quit.

It is this demand, and the sense of community, built into some of these games that keeps you involved. Peer pressure and a need to achieve are two of the largest pressures in anyone’s life. These games do a masterful job of applying these psychological forces, in a devastating and paralyzing manner.

It’s no wonder that Zynga (the maker of Farmville, Mafia Wars, Cafe World, etc.) was recently valued at close to 3 Billion dollars. You heard me correctly. The monies they are making when people spend $5 here, and $10 there, add up to massive revenues.

Addiction is a major problem for many of the highly ranked players, and whenever the big boys level up, they add more features, increasing the chances that players will stay addicted to the game.

How “casual” can gaming be, if you have a large population of addicts? And when will start to see game addiction counseling become a major offering? That was once the domain of hard-core gamers like World of Warcraft players, or those who played a little too much Halo. Now, it may be Grandma Meg that needs an intervention.

The question remains to be asked, in fact, it is begging to be asked: Will future games be banned, because of their addictive nature? You may scoff at this, but I predict lawsuits in the near future, claiming that people just couldn’t keep from spending money, or questing, or even getting that last meaningless badge.

Will we one day regulate these games, based on their level of engagement? They are regulating gore in Australia, why not something that gives you a compulsion, to buy, quest, or save?

Or, will people eventually tired of these games, and move onto something else? It’s unlikely , but…hold on, I have to level, and add a few buffs to my character. Back in five, I promise…

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Games | , , , , | Leave a comment

Parking Games

The genre of parking games encompasses a large assortment of games, ranging from slow-paced puzzle games to reflex-testing timed games. In the most basic puzzle-based type, this is an relatively classic type of game. It can be traced back to old-fashioned slider puzzles like “Traffic Jam” and “Gridlock”, in which your task is to move blocks, or vehicles around until you get the vehicle to the target position. The modern variations vary from faithful implementations of these puzzles to what amount to scaled-down driving simulations.

In these puzzle-type parking games, as mentioned above, the goal is to figure out the sequence of moves required to get from the start to the end. Sometimes you will have multiple vehicles that need to be moved. It may be timed, either to set a limit on the time required to figure out the puzzle, or simply as a means of providing some measure of achievement more than simply completing the level. The level of realness can vary as well: Several games in this category are fairly accurate copies of the old block-and-slider games, while several involve a more realistic space for the player to travel in with more possible directions of movement. For the most part, in these puzzle-type car parking games, the player is in absolute control of what happens: the surroundings is static, and the main goal of the player is figure out the best sequence of movements to manipulate it.

In contrast, the other end of the spectrum consists of games in which the environment is not static, and the goal of the player is to respond to it. The original goal remains the same: get from some place to another. But now the goal is to respond to obstacles that show up along the way—generally other vehicles. These are frequently much more based on quick reaction time on the player’s part, and planning at the beginning of the level are typically less useful. The key emphasis is on the player’s ability to respond to either random or timed obstacles.

From the standpoint of a developer, the core mechanic of car parking games gives a lot of room for tweaking side-mechanics and themes. For example, one entrant into the field involves moving snow to a target with a plow while avoiding parked cars. Likewise, levels can a great deal be automatically generated pretty successfully, generating tremendous replay value. It is also ordinarily reasonably obvious what will make a difficult level and what will make a simple one, allowing for simple fine-tune of the difficulty level.

From the point of view of a player, parking games typically fall into the category of “difficult to master, easy to learn.” Usually the primary goal and mechanics of a parking game are fairly intuitive, but a well-designed one can continue ramping up the difficulty level as well as tossing new curve balls at the player. As well, the range of games from puzzle-based to twitch-based means that parking games as a genre can appeal to a large range of casual and not-so-casual gamers.

Parking games are a somewhat new category of games, and there’s plenty of unexplored territory. Happy gaming!

May 17, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology, Games | , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Game Development

Do you want to develop some killer games for Facebook and don’t know how to go about it? Zatun provides answers for your Facebook game programming requirements. With its deep understanding of the social network gaming and expertise in developing games to make social interaction fun, Zatun helps you develop games that moves beyond any set norms or demographic limitations. If you go by the Facebook game development gurus, then social networking games are here to stay for as long as gamers love to play with real identities in the real world.

Facebook Game Development – Move to the Next Level with Zatun!

The Facebook game development team at Zatun has been busy understanding the players’ psychology at Facebook and finally provides you with an opportunity to encash from its ever growing user database. Facebook with its more than 200 million players per month has given enough to keep the Facebook game developers busy creating games that revolutionized, monetized and popularized the way the world plays games online. Tailoring this research & understanding that takes gaming experience from platforms to devices to geographies, Zatun literally helps you move to the next level of Facebook game development.
Facebook Game Development – Most Popular Media of Social Interaction!

Send a mystery bag of fatal weapons to your boss or a Valentine’s gift to your wife in your favorite Facebook games that you play, you closely associate with others in this virtual world of gaming. With more and more players loving to compete with their real life friends and colleagues that social networking experts call the involvement of ‘social emotions’, the Facebook game development is no more bound to specific devices as people love to connect. Zatun envisages new avenues for Facebook game developers like never before. The time is just right to work on your Facebook game development projects.

Creating engaging Facebook games? Trust Zatun

When it comes to developing brain storming games that are engaging and literally create the viral hooks that capture the players’ minds, it requires more than simple game development. This makes Facebook game development a challenge. Zatun’s expertise in helping you develop Facebook games with real viral paradigm that helps in building strategic gameplay experience. We help you hook up players to the screen by creating RPG-style games that are designed to fascinate players. Facebook game developers at Zatun provide their support through out this complete cycle.

Facebook Game Development – Zatun’s Strategic Process

A regular Facebook game development project at Zatun begin with helping you launch a game with FConnect and create a platform for new users to join and play.
By bringing in new props, items, goals, collections, adding crew and levels Zatun helps the user get hooked to the client while working seamlessly on making the Facebook games better.
At the same time our Facebook game developers create forums and fan pages to popularize the game. Additionally, Zatun helps you list the game at the Facebook Directory, Facebook notifications, and Facebook Verification.
We make sure your users connect to Facebook through your website and play games without any hassles. The whole process of Facebook game development is performed under a highly trusted and secured networking environment.

At Zatun, we believe in an end product that not only appeals the mass but enthralls them as well. That is why we leave our work to speak for us.

Want to build the highest grossing chart buster Facebook game? Zatun is waiting to lend you a hand!

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Computers & Technology, Games | , , | 1 Comment