Changing Tides In Facebook Gaming

California-based gaming company Electronic Arts has recently announced that it no longer plans to go ahead with an emphasis on creating games for Facebook. The company, which already boasts popular Facebook titles such as Bejeweled Blitz, Outernauts, SimSociety Social and Plants vs. Zombies, is pulling back from the platform, and according to a press release by president Frank Gibreau, EA has instead returned its focus to console game development – its former bread and butter – and mobile game development.

This news did not come as much of surprise to observers, as it was quite apparent that EA was no longer generating the income from Facebook that it once had been. In its latest quarterly report, EA noted that smartphones and tablets were its most profitable platforms, and Apple was its largest retail partner, in terms of sales, not Facebook. Related to the shift in concentration, EA most likely has its eye on the next-gen consoles being released soon by Microsoft and Sony, two of EA’s longest-term, most profitable partners.

As competition revs up, with newer key players Epic Games and Blizzard Entertainment also in pursuit, EA’s refocus is understandable. This follows on the heels of Zynga’s announcement last March that it would be amending its contract with Facebook, while loosening ties and seeking promotion of its titles elsewhere. In a move many saw as a reach for independence, Zynga went on to use its own currency instead of routing through Facebook, which had previously captured a 30% cut from in-game transactions.

As of now, Zynga has jumped into real-money gaming through Zynga PlusPoker, which debuted in the UK in June. As a result, Zynga’s shares shot up 5% just days after the unveiling. Online poker companies have responded to Zynga's growing popularity with competitive promotions like the Lock Gladiator promo, for example.

Social-gaming company King Inc. is also planning to shut down some of the games it publishes through Facebook in the early fall, though they cite their reasoning for doing so as being a resource decision. King Inc., best known for its popular puzzle game Candy Crush Saga, currently has several games operating on the social network platform, and elsewhere, but Candy Crush Saga’s enormous success has driven the company to phase out older titles from Facebook (though they will remain on King’s own web portal).

A King spokesperson told GamesBeat that they were looking to prioritize their time and efforts so they could focus on new titles and maintain a gameplay experience for key titles such as Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga – all top 10 game apps on Facebook.


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