Zynga Chief Game Designer Brian Reynolds was recently quoted by Industry Gamers as saying that XBox Live had “too small a demographic” for Zynga games. This challenges the conventional wisdom that social gaming companies have been chomping at the bit to get their games to console. It looks like the games industry is in for a huge change over the next decade, because if a social games developer is scoffing at XBox Live, there’s the potential that console gaming and social gaming grow in completely separate directions.
Facebook games head Gareth Davis said a year ago that we hadn’t seen the “Mario” of Facebook games yet. He meant that the breakthrough title still hadn’t been seen, the one that was undeniably excellent to nearly every demographic. I think this is still true, and I also think Zynga’s aware of this. They are pushing into Facebook gaming and their opportunities to expand in different directions (See What Exactly Is Zynga Trying To Do With RewardVille?] are mostly attempts to bolster their Facebook games.
That said, there has always been the notion, especially within the gaming industry, that social games will eventually go cross-platform. Imagine playing a turn-based Angry Birds from your iPhone against a family playing on their living room XBox Kinect. That kind of experience still holds sway, but with Angry Birds creator Rovio’s CEO recently stating that console games are pretty much dying, we’re seeing that the new generation of game makers has no interest in connecting with consoles. Sure, they’ll release their titles on XBox, but only after they’ve proven themselves on the iPhone.
That would make consoles a second rung experience for a whole group of largely profitable, fast-growing companies. Do you think we’ll see more cooperation between console game makers and social game makers in the future?