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Social Networking and Gaming Collide

Aug 15, 2008
Casual games are making connections with social networks to make a play for even bigger audiences.

The reach of online casual games is already impressive: One-third of people ages 6 to 44 have played them, according to market tracker The NPD Group. Globally, casual games on PCs, game systems and handhelds, played online and off, generate about $2.25 billion annually, according to the Casual Games Association.

In the past two months, two new online gaming hubs, Cafe and Mytopia, have launched with features that let players connect with friends on the Web and through various social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as Bebo and Hi5.

The website Cafe features drawing game Sketch-It!, along with the more traditional Concentration and Sudoku; players can buy game "boosts" and outfit "Mini-Me" avatars. Mytopia focuses on traditional games such as backgammon and dominoes, and also has virtual currency for prizes and upgrades.

Two popular existing networks, Zynga and Social Gaming Network, have begun adding their games as applications on social networks. More such combinations are on the way, because the revenue potential from advertising, subscriptions and virtual items is enormous. It's a huge audience, and there are a lot of different experiments on the Web taking on elements of gaming and the traditional social network.

Social Gaming Network, which opened in August, has seen its WarBook game attract more than 33,600 daily users on Facebook since becoming an application last fall. You have free access to all these users looking for fun and engaging experiences with their friends. We're connecting them in ways that wasn't really possible before.

Over the past two months, since gaming hub Zynga made its games such as Texas Hold'em and Scramble available on Facebook, its audience has grown from 1 million to 2.3 million players daily.

Historically, games such as Popcap Games' Bejeweled helped fuel casual games' growth in versions for the Web, cellphones, handhelds and game systems. Electronic Arts' Pogo rose as a dominant casual games hub that began offering subscriptions (currently 1.62 million) as well as downloadable games.

New social communities specifically geared for gaming like Zowned have risen. Zowned allows members to mingle, create profiles, learn about the latest and greatest information on upcoming and current games. Members can view and share pictures, videos and music. Zowned has a very large arcade where members can play their favorite Java games. Although in its infant stages the Zowned website and community may very well set the standard for social gaming communities in the future.
About the Author
Bryan Braning is an internet marketer and team member of the Ultimate Gaming Community Zowned.com

Grab your gamer tag today at Zowned and Get ZowneD!
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