At a speed-themed panel during the Marketing Intelligence 6 Conference in San Francisco today, RockYou SVP and GM Julie Shumaker had 20 slides and six minutes to describe what she sees as the future of games. Wisely, she limited her time to talking about social games.
“The irony is that the future of social gaming will actually be social,” Shumaker said. “The evolution of social games is about game content and the mechanics that make interesting social game experiences. Content will move from clicks to storylines. We may require people to think.”
Being that Shumaker only had 20 seconds per slide to explain her assertions, not all of the ideas were fully expressed; but a notable few make a lot of sense to us. For example, she said that as social games evolve toward actual social experience, people will develop friend networks around games made up of people who aren’t actually their friends in real life. Shumaker also said that these experiences would shift from asynchronous “click and then wait for your friend” experiences to synchronous, multiplayer games.
Another interesting idea is the impact real life will have on social games in the form of augmented reality and brand engagement. Shumaker — and all of the other panelists — seemed to agree that the future of games would be a 24/7 networked experience consistent from device to device and through this constant connection, we might see real life inserting itself into the game either as a gameplay experience or as a marketing exercise. For example, Shumaker hypothesized a scenario where a player would walk into a Starbucks, complete a level in a game on his phone, and win a free latte from the store for his in-game accomplishment.
The challenge, Shumaker said, is bringing the existing hardcore gamer into the social games space. “We’ve got to blow shit up,” she said. Then, echoing a statement made in an early MI6 panel by EA Sports’ Peter Moore, she said that brands would add value to the player experience in a way that would engage them consistently.
Shumaker closed her six-minute speech with the statement that RockYou would play a part in all of this. “We will continue to innovate our ad products,” she said. But at the same time, the company would continue to innovate in gameplay so that “games will finally move from clicks to experiences.”