Will Player Unions Drive Future Changes To Social Games?

Social Game Players Union IconWith tens of millions of users playing many of the top social games, you would imagine that users would have a greater say in the future of the application. That’s exactly where the idea of player unions come in and Jason McDonald, an avid Zoo World player, appears to be the creator of the first social game players union. The “OFFICIAL Zoo World PLAYERS UNION” is an unofficial group according to RockYou, yet it appears true that Jason McDonald has been meeting with RockYou execs on behalf of players to negotiate changes.

Whether or not this is an official group, the concept behind it makes a lot of sense: the millions of users within social games join forces to drive change. This wouldn’t be the first time that something like this took place. In September of last year protests erupted in YoVille after Zynga decided to kill the “Widget Factory” and replace it with a bakery which required users to return to the game more often.

While thousands of users eventually joined the movement, nothing was accomplished, which goes to show that the game developer gets the final say. Games are the only online services to face protests. After each significant change made by Facebook, millions of users typically join protest groups. On occasion those protests (combined with media coverage) finally result in changes. I’ve always described the model as a “two steps forward one step back” process.

In Zoo World, the players don’t currently have any major changes that need to be made but I can almost guarantee once changes are made that the users don’t like, this unofficial “players union” will become a much more influential organization. The idea behind a social gaming players union is kind of ironic in itself. With so many social games out there, users can simply leave the game and go on to the next one.

Some players spend thousands of hours within these games though and after such a significant commitment, leaving on to a new game is not that easy. While this is only the first players union for a social game that appears to actually have contact with company executives, this could be the beginning of a much broader movement. While RockYou was extremely hesitant to confirm that there was any form of “official” players union, large groups of users joined together can most definitely drive change.

Do you think we’ll begin to see a rise in unofficial “player unions”? How important is user feedback when company’s are using extensive amounts of metrics to track every user interaction?