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Social game players continue ditching desktops for mobile
Social game players continue ditching desktops for mobile
September 13, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Mounting evidence points to mobile devices replacing social networks as the dominant platform for casual games -- a trend underlined by audiences for the top Facebook titles shrinking rapidly.

In August, most of the top titles from major social game publishers like Zynga, Electronic Arts, and Disney/Playdom saw their daily active user numbers suffer double-digit declines month-to-month, according to Cowen and Company analyst Doug Cruetz.

Meanwhile, free-to-play titles on smartphones and tablets had their most dominant month yet -- across the three top 20 grossing games lists for iPhone, Android, and iPad last month, 56 out of the 60 titles use the free-to-play model.

"We believe that over the last several months, trends in the casual digital gaming space have swung decisively towards mobile and away from PC-based social gaming, at least in Western markets," says Cowen.

A number of Facebook's biggest developers have been shifting their focus, if not completely migrating, to mobile in the last year. Top Girl maker CrowdStar, for example, decided to halt all development on social titles, and work on mobile games instead.

And Zynga, the largest developer on Facebook in terms of audience size, for example, has put plenty of effort into growing its mobile presence recently. It even spent a reported $210 million last March to acquire Omgpop, the studio behind one of the biggest mobile game properties at the time, Draw Something.

Just yesterday, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that users are more engaged and spending more time on mobile than on desktops, and that the company believes it can make a lot more money by targeting people accessing the social network on their smartphones.

"A lot of the development and the energy in the eco-system is not going towards building desktop stuff anymore, it's going towards building mobile stuff," says Zuckerberg. "We're able to integrate and we're helping a lot of folks build great mobile experiences - that's the future."

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Dylan Tan
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In my humble opinion, there could be various reasons why players are moving to mobile. For 1, it could be that desktop social games are not so portable as the mobile, and plus player can't access to facebook in the office or as and when they want. 2nd those social games are becoming very repetitive in the gameplay and easily become boring. If they insist to bring the same thing to mobile, it would be just matter of time, they will see the declines in the player yet again. I think they need some originality and better ways to engage the players.

Jonathan Jennings
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i think the ease of acces is truly what makes social gamers gravitate towards mobile devices. even myself a year ago I would never touch a mobile device( or a social game for that matter) but with my current position and constantly being around ipads , iphones , and androids it would be amazing to play a game whenever i want and surprisingly some of those social games have a entertaining level of depth! .

if a person is constantly seated at a desktop i could imagine social gaming on the pc would still be a big deal because it offers something to do throughout the time you are seated at the desktop but i don't think anything could beat curling up with your device on a bus, in front of the fire place, heck i have even seen my co-workers do it at their desk with a desktop PC !

Cordero W
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I wouldn't exactly call Social gamers "gamers."

Alan Rimkeit
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In the mean time hardcore gamers continue to play games on consoles and PC's.

Carlos Rocha
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Gamers are gamers regardless on the platform, and as more gamers exist the industry will keep growing. I think social gaming is finding its stability, not everything can grow year after year, I'm guessing something similar will happen to mobile in about 5 years from now, until they all find their market share.

And, as Alan Rimkeit said, hardcore gamers (like lots of readers here) will keep on playing on our consoles... so... when are the new ones coming out again? (aside of the Wii U).