So, gaming is huge. $50Bn huge. And it just gets bigger. This week's release of Modern Warfare 2 sold almost 5m copies (or $310m dollars worth) on it's first day. The producers are saying that it's the biggest entertainment launch of all time.
But apart from MW2, the big story this week was about EA's acquisition of the social gaming company Playfish which produces games like Pet Society and Restaurant City, that sit on social networking platforms – in a deal that could be worth a cool $400m. It's the first time that the realms of social and video gaming have truly come together – Mashable said it could be 'a watershed moment'.
Social and gaming work. Facebook has effectively become a huge gaming platform. The biggest social gaming company, Zynga, is estimated to have annual revenues around $200m. The Top 3 make an estimated $335m. Virtual goods and transactions have been around for a good while (the US market for virtual goods is believed to be worth $1Bn, the Asian market $7Bn) but Zynga claims that a third of its revenue comes from them. It's biggest social game, Farmville, allows you to manage a virtual farm on Facebook. Since being released in June, 60 million (yes, that's 60 million) people have downloaded the app. Over 21m people play it daily.
The secret of Farmville's success, apart from the fact that it's pretty addictive, is that it's the kind of game that you can dip into for short periods of time meaning that, as The Guardian says, "it isn't really a game at all…it's an online hobby". To progress quickly in the game and accessorise your farm, you invite other people to join the community. So whilst there's been some griping of late about some of the ways in which Farmville makes its cash, there's no doubt that it is an excellent example of spreadable media.
I can't help but think: How many content and brand owners would fall over themselves to acquire the kind of reach and engagement that a simple virtual farm game on Facebook has achieved?