I was never a fan of Mafia Wars, but I did play Vampire Wars fervently. At the peak of my addiction, I had over 1,500 Facebook friends—1,000 or so of which were my gaming buddies. Back then, social games were all the rage on the social networking site, begging the question, “Was Facebook turning into a gaming platform?”
Well, that question can finally be answered. And the answer is no. I have since deleted those 1,000 friends, leaving me with people I actually know in real life. I have also blocked most game requests, as, I would later find out, is something that a lot of people have done. Today, my only guilty pleasure in the realm of social network gaming is Candy Crush Saga. And I’m not the only one who’s hooked.
Candy Crush Saga is the most popular Facebook game, beating longtime favorite FarmVille 2 on both monthly and daily active user counts. For me, the game is so entertaining because it’s built upon the simplicity of the tile-matching puzzle premise while challenging players to take on increasingly difficult levels—with a variety of goals—as you move further along in the game. And you need your friends for extra “lives” (attempts), moves and tickets to unlock new chapters. Seeing your friends’ progress and scores is an added bonus, if you’re the competitive kind.
Before Candy Crush Saga, the last game I played with Facebook integration was Draw Something. This was in early 2012.
Social network gaming, once the hottest activity to hit the online social scene, seems to be on a decline. Chris Morris, writing for the Plugged In blog on Yahoo!, observed, “As apps continue to expand, most people don’t have the time to play games on their phone and on Facebook—and they’ve opted to go with the mobile option…eliminating the need to go through a middleman.”
Just last week, Electronic Arts announced “the difficult decision to retire some of our Facebook games: The Sims Social, SimCity Social and Pet Society” effective June 14, citing a decrease in players as the reason.
Also last week, digital research firm Superdata reported that “for the first time in over a year, the total number of monthly active social gamers in the US dropped below 200 million,” with the departure of roughly 10 million players. It added that “EA’s retirement of SimCity Social and [Pet Society developer] Playfish…emphasizes the loss of interest in the space by major publishers.”