What are social games?
Social games, which are sometimes referred to as “casual games”, are the latest evolution in video and computer games. They are hugely popular, with games like Candy Crush or Farmville played by millions of people all over the world.
Unlike traditional video games, which are purchased up front and played on a computer or console, social games can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet, often for free, and played on the go.
Social features are an important part of social games and are made possible by being connected to the Internet. As well as playing against the game, people can compete with their friends and other players worldwide either in real-time, with multiple people playing the same game at once, or with players taking it in turns. Social gameplay is encouraged through leader boards, chat rooms, leagues, and the ability to share virtual bonuses, gifts and rewards with friends and others.
In many ways social games are simply the latest evolution of the board and card games that friends and family have played together for centuries. The best way to understand social games is probably by having a go at playing them!
People enjoy social games for lots of reasons. They can be an enjoyable way for friends and family to spend time together and are a means of competing with others for fun. People also play them simply to pass the time or relax.
Social games can also be great educational tools, thanks to their ability to motivate players and enable collaborative learning.
Social games are played by people of all ages, all over the world. Gone are the days when video games were mainly played by teenage boys in their bedrooms! In fact, research from the International Social Games Association shows that the average player is 40 years old, with slightly more women playing than men.
There is a huge variety of social games, catering for a wide range of interests and playing preferences. Popular genres include:
Role-play: Games where you work your way through imaginary worlds and communities. Notable examples include: Lifeline, Habbo and Taichi Panda.
Simulation: These games allow you to develop and design your own farms, cities and kingdoms. Notable examples include: DragonVale, FarmVille and CityVille.
Social casino: Resemble games typically found in a casino. An important feature of social casino style is that they are not real casino or gambling games: players can’t win or lose money in these games. Notable examples include: Casino Magic, Slotomania and Big Fish Casino.
Sports: Games based on real-life sporting activities. Notable examples include FIFA Superstars, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Tennis Mania.
Quiz games: Include quizzes, puzzles and learning games. Notable examples include: QuizUp, TriviaBurst and SongPop.
Social games can be played on a variety of digital devices, although they are most commonly played on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets:
Smartphones: Use of smartphones is on the up – the number of smartphones used to play social games is projected to soon overtake desktops and laptops.
Tablets: With the benefit of bigger screens and the capacity for more advanced games, gamers are increasingly opting to play on tablets. Indeed, their use is actually growing faster than smartphones.
Laptops and desktop computers: The laptop and desktop market remains an important part of the social games industry, with titles specifically adapted to the increased capability of this powerful hardware.
Smart TVs: These are essentially TVs with computer capability and Internet connectivity. Their popularity for playing social games is currently small, but growing.