At the Inside Social Apps conference today in San Francisco, a number of leading social game executives participated in a discussion about the “Future of Facebook as a social gaming platform”. While there were a number of takeaways, the most significant statistic that many attendees found to be interesting was that two-thirds of Facebook’s page views are within games. This was an approximate estimate put forth by one of the panelists, to which Peter Relan, the CEO of Crowstar jokingly responded that those page views are evenly split between Zynga’s FarmVille and Cafe World.
There has also been increasing discussion about developers moving off the Facebook Platform, however it sounds as though that is still in the experimentation phase for most developers despite other rumors. Peter Relan suggested that there is a significant opportunity in off-Platform traffic over the next two years, however it will be a relatively long-term transition. Keith Rabois of Slide confirmed a similar position in that one of their game’s destination sites has hundreds of thousands of dedicated users, but it’s usually the the most avid users who visit off-Platform sites as of right now.
The panel also briefly touched on Facebook Credits. For the most part, the developers felt that their interests are finally aligned with Facebook’s interests. However, they also emphasized that it is still necessary to leverage alternative payment providers. Without the alternative solutions, revenue will drop significantly according to Keith Rabois. One other concern of many developers in the audience pertained to the reported flattening of social gaming traffic.
In response to a question about flattening traffic from an IGN reporter, Vish Makhijani, COO of Zynga, stated that while the first quarter was slow, the company sees an increasing number of signs that traffic will begin booming again. John Pleasants, CEO of Playdom, concurred with Vikas and even made a “bold” prediction that the collective social game market would double in size in the next 18 months.
Finally, on the topic of monetization, Peter Relan suggested that two countries are proving difficult to monetize: Italy and China. China was not surprising, since Facebook doesn’t have a significant reach in the country, however Italy has significant saturation.