Lately, I’ve been diving into Facebook games so that I can see what they are all about. Overall, I’m fairly disappointed in a good number of them. Not in the game themselves, but in how they are implemented on Facebook.
I’m not new to online gaming. I’ve got an Xbox 360 and there are people on my friend list there that I met playing Left 4 Dead or Burnout Paradise or some other game. I’ve played MMOs and I know people from EverQuest and World of Warcraft and other games I’ve dabbled in. I understand, and actually desire, the need for other people. However, the way games integrate into Facebook, it requires me to be extra vigilant in how I handle my gaming friends.
In order to progress in most of these games, you need friends. I suppose you could spam messages out to all the people who are your real friends and beg them to play, but not everyone wants to play Facebook games, so it is not uncommon to need more game friends than your real friend list gets you. Most games, on their pages, have discussion boards where people can ask to be added as friends. Now, I can’t just add you as a FarmVille friend, I have to add you as a Facebook friend. Facebook does allow me to add people to lists, of which I have one called “Not” for people who are not my friends, and manage what they have access to and then I can hide them from my news feed so that I never see their stuff, but it just seems like hoops I am jumping through.
A perfect example of this is a game called Hero World. It is fun, if tedious at time, but the main element is that the number of people in your super team directly influences how powerful you are. So, people with more friends are more powerful. Scouring my list of real friends, I came up with 9 who wanted to play Hero World. With the max team size somewhere around 250, clearly my team was weak, and therefore I was weak. Moreover, I found that in order to buy bases and continue growing my own character I needed more friends. I utilized my “Not” group and made some new “friends”. Yay! I’m more powerful! And now I’m getting spam from people I don’t know!
Perhaps I’m just missing the point, perhaps I just don’t get it, perhaps I am becoming the old man screaming at the kids to get off his lawn, but to me a “friend” is someone I know. What passes for “friends” on Facebook just don’t seem to fit the definition. Facebook already makes a distinction between a friend and a fan, so why not allow someone to be application level friends where we can play a game together without the instant intimacy of being a “friend”?
Anyway… having been banging at some Facebook games for a while now, I’m going to start putting up reviews of them in the near future…