Tomorrow, Yahoo will announce a deal with Offerpal, the company that provides marketers the chance to buy virtual currency for prospective customers.The deal should come as a wake-up call to Facebook.
In May, Yahoo took advantage of another round of Facebook limitations on social games virality to cut a deal with Zynga to bring its top game, FarmVille, to Yahoo.com.
And now there’s tomorrow news.
An Offerpal spokesperson describes the deal as “a partnership with Yahoo! to monetise social games on the Yahoo! Application Platform, giving application developers a viable alternative to Facebook and its pending 30% “tax” imposed by Facebook Credits.”
Yahoo has a long way to go before it’s application platform is even close to becoming a real “alternative” to Facebook for games-makers. Its games area doesn’t have Facebook’s scale, and despite Facebook’s ever-increasing limits on the number of messages gamesmakers can send to their users, Facebook remains the easiest place on the Internet for a game to “go viral.”
Facebook would have to blow it to not become the online game console of the future.
Sources of ours at games-making companies, The Facebook Effect author David Kirkpatrick, as well as a source close to Facebook investors, tell us that the only real threat to Facebook’s chances of becoming the game console of the future is CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s lack of enthusiasm for Facebook games.
But Mark addressed those concerns in a recent interview with Inside Facebook:
What do you think about how big the games business has become on the platform? You told me a couple of years ago soon after the Platform launched that you weren’t really thinking about games when you built the Platform.
I was surprised, I was surprised about games. I had a conversation with some folks at Apple at one point, and they were surprised that games was the big thing on the iPhone too. I also heard anecdotally that the people making the first PC operating systems were surprised that games were that big too. So I think people build platforms for utilitarian purposes and then get surprised that games are a killer app, so I don’t think it’s uncommon. But clearly a lot of people like them.
Someone once wrote that I don’t like games, and I think that’s pretty silly. I don’t spend a lot of time playing games myself, but it’s really cool as a first proof example of an industry that’s getting completely disrupted by the whole social movement. All the dynamics of how you play the game, getting neighbours, trade with people, do tasks with people to more efficiently use your resources. It’s the first place where someone completely wove in social dynamics into the dynamics of the industry, and it works really well. The early games like Jetman and Boggle and things like that weren’t that social, but now when you hear gaming companies talk about the next generation of games that they’re creating, everything is about integrating the social stuff more and more deeply into the game.
Now, there are companies like Zynga, EA/Playfish, CrowdStar, but then there’s a Facebook version of civilisation as well, so it’s going in both directions. The Civ game is your traditional high quality game, but the big question there is whether they leverage social dynamics enough. The risk for them is that it might just end up being a good traditional game with very little social integration.