6th of April 2009 Author: Ava Jackuard
11 million users can't be wrong!
The most popular application on the huge online social networking website Facebook is Texas Hold 'em Poker, which is played by a staggering 11 million of the site's 200 million users, according to a report over the weekend in the Financial Times.
It's a staggering number of people interested in online poker and a medium to which marketing professionals men would be wise to pay attention.
The trend is for Facebook to emerge as the world's biggest gaming platform. Next in popularity, with 9 million users is Pet Society , where players create pets and their homes and exercise and care for them with friends - it's even more popular in terms of daily players with more than 60 percent of its users returning every day to look after their creatures.
The newspaper reports that the leading publishers on Facebook are San Francisco's Zynga and London-based Playfish, which developed Pet Society.
Kristian SegerstrÃ¥le, chief executive of Playfish, says social gaming is more like the social interactions around kicking a ball in a park than the experience of a traditional console video game.
"The emotional driver for you to play is not the kind of fight or flight emotions which tend to happen between you and the screen on consoles, but the much more powerful emotions of you and your real world friends," SegerstrÃ¥le says.
"It can be competition, cooperation, expression, communication, just like in real world games."
Social gaming was a hot topic at last month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
"The biggest shift is that, in the past, most of the social gaming has been with people that you don't know. With Facebook that's completely changed," says Brian Fargo, a game developer.
He describes a bowling game on Facebook where he can see his friends and their high scores.
"I want to play now because I want to beat them. The social dynamic of knowing the people out there really changes things for me," Fargo says.
Online gaming on services such as Microsoft's Xbox Live, which has 17 million members worldwide, or PC casual gaming destinations such as Pogo or Big Fish generally takes place between strangers.
Facebook is not charging developers for games, mainly because they are initially free and the service is focused on expanding its user base, the Financial Times reports.
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