Stock Wars – A Depression or Boom?

The economy, the economy, the economy…. Everywhere you look, someone is talking about how bad the economy is, and at the forefront of it all is the American stock market. People left and right are bailing out in fear of further loses, while others see the diminished values as opportunity to be had. However, that begs the question as to what type of investor are you?

It’s safe to say that now isn’t the best time to be experimenting with investments via the real stock market, but if you are curious about your capabilities, then check out Stock Wars by Black Swan Games. This Facebook app is a living breathing simulation of the actual stock market as it lets players build a virtual portfolio, with virtual money, based on actual market data.

Stock Wars is connected to real stock market feeds such as NASDAQ, NYSE, and AMEX so the updates that occur in the game are, suffice to say, accurate. However, there is a 20 minute delay between reality and the app, so that does leave opportunity to cheat, but doing so would sort of defeat the purpose of playing the application in the first place.

First and foremost, it needs to be clarified that this is more of a simulation than a game. It is a designed for a very niche audience and if stocks and investments don’t interest you then this is going to be a very boring “game” for you.

Unless you already have a pre-existing knowledge of investment, there are a few things right off the bat that is far from new user friendly. For example, there doesn’t seem to be any way to compare all the possible stocks, and in order to see anything, you have to search for it using a “symbol.” Sadly, there is no way of knowing what that is without randomly guessing something. This is disappointing, because if the developers were to gradually teach a new user about investment and incorporate some more user friendly devices (in a fun an innovative way, of course), then this game could teach quite a bit of useful knowledge to young, would-be entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, if you are into stocks and investing, then this is a simulation worth checking out. It simulates the market data extremely well and lets you buy and sell constantly. It also has a nice extra feature that dynamically changes your virtual avatar based on how well you are doing. Furthermore, you have the option to “challenge” your friends to see who is the better investor.

Unfortunately, this challenge mode is the same as any other Facebook game and seems integrated more out of obligation rather than design necessity. All this option does is basically compare scores over a period of time and the players involved bet on who will win. While the exchange of money does affect game play, it feels a little stagnant. You create the challenge and wait – that’s about it.

Despite the lack of social game mechanics, Stock Wars is certainly not bad. It is just made for a specific audience…. a very specific audience. Assuming that the developers are targeting that user group, then they have done a pretty decent job. However, if they are attempting to target a more generalized population then they have a lot of work to do. The game does not make any effort into teaching a new user about investment nor how to really play the game well, and someone unfamiliar with the market is left to fend for themselves, thus leading to quick frustration and eventually quitting all together.

Stock Wars works great for a niche audience, but has a lot of room for improvement for a more general one.