Restaurant Life Brings Quality New Ingredients to Social Restaurant Gaming

n30893731002_2469Recently we have seen a move towards games that combine more complex game design seen in traditional casual flash games with social networking provided by popular Facebook games. We just covered one of these games: Battle Punks from Gravity Bear. Another one like this is Restaurant Life by CrowdStar.

Restaurant Life has been steadily growing since launch, in part because Crowdstar has added Restaurant Life to its cross promotion toolbar on Happy Aquarium and Happy Pets. Today, the game has more than 1.8 million monthly active users.

Of course, Restaurant-themed games are not new on Facebook. Playfish has Restaurant City and Zynga has Café World. And, like these games, Restaurant Life lets players earn cash by preparing and serving food to visiting patrons. Also, like the other games, you can hire your friends to serve the food. Lets look at some of the things that makes Restaurant Life different from existing games.

Sophisticated game play

More established restaurant rivals and even other games by Crowdstar have a cartoon-like look and feel. Restaurant Life on the other hand has a more realistic look and its graphics are rendered with a lot of attention to detail.

meal w friends

Also unlike other restaurant games where visitors have to eat whatever the restaurateur is serving, in Restaurant Life the visiting friend can choose what they would like to eat. During the meal they can also asynchronously interact with friends by sharing a meal with them, paying for their meal, and playing object recognition based memory games.

Restaurant review

All of these in game actions create a more engaging game environment for those players who desire more interactivity and realism in their games.

Extending your social graph

Most Facebook games are created so that you can only play them with your existing friends. From a user standpoint this can be a problem both when the game is new and there are fewer friends playing it with as well as when the game is old and the ability to move up is restricted by ones’ social graph. We know that users experience this problem as evidenced by the multitude of Facebook (and sometimes in-person) social game groups as well as threads on application forums, all of which involve users asking each other to add them in order to be more active in the game.

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Limiting game play to a user’s existing social graph is also a problem from a developer’s standpoint as it represents the loss of an opportunity to provide users to engage with the game longer.

Restaurant Life cleverly surpasses this problem through a restaurant city guide feature, which allows users to find and visit rated restaurants of others Facebook users who they may not already be friends with. To make sure visitors going to new restaurants through the guide have a quality experience, Restaurant Life only allows restaurants that have remodeled the default version to list themselves in the guide.

remodeling

The app style and game play are significantly different for earlier Crowdstar apps, which made us wonder if this was an outside developer app being promoted by Crowdstar.  Yvonne Lee, marketing manager at Crowdstar tells us that the app is developed by Crowdstar Labs, a skunkworks team assembled occasionally inside CrowdStar with the charter to try innovative new ideas.

Restaurant Life definitely fits the bill for innovation of games on Facebook.

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Sana Choudary works with traditional game developers who are having the challenge of understanding how to build social games. She helps them understand how to use and optimize viral channels and social media marketing to build popular social games. She blogs at Traffichoney.com.