We find that in today’s modern culture, the use of social networking sites has worked to increase, or extend the life cycle of individual games or a gaming franchise. We also find that these two forms of entertainment have now become interwoven with games that are played on these social sites. So what effect will this have on the future of gaming? Firstly, we must focus on how the influence of social networking has affected both an individual indie game, and a large gaming franchise.
On May 17th 2009, a relatively unknown developer by the name of Markus Persson released the game Minecraft at an alpha stage of development. This block building survival game was not passed through any marketing campaign nor was a large amount of money spent towards any form of advertising whatsoever. In the case of Minecraft’s success, it is the popularity from within the social networks which led to its great success, which also includes Markus (known by the online world as ‘Notch’) being put forward to possibly receive a BAFTA. As it stands, over 6 million copies of Minecraft have been purchased. Also within the YouTube gaming community, Minecraft has become a largely sought after game for viewers; and as a result a vast amount of YouTube gamers include it in their videos. Although the effect made by YouTube was not an initial factor to its success, I believe Minecraft has become very popular as a result of this social networking. Although I believe Minecraft is an excellent game and personally have played many hours of Minecraft, I also believe that, like other indie titles, it would not have gained as much of a success, if it had not been for the hype it received within social networking.
We now look to an example from a very popular games franchise which would not have lasted as long, if not for the YouTube gamer scene. The Call of Duty franchise has grown to such an extent, that many people who are not within the gaming community are aware of its concept as well as the new releases that will be coming out. Although people may argue that the is the marketing or the advertising of the franchise, or the general high quality of the games, I believe that the community of YouTube gaming commentators has allowed the popularity of the franchise to expand, as well as survive for a longer period than is normal for such a lengthily franchise. Despite the complaints of bugs, glitches and imbalanced content, the latest Call of Duty releases still seems to sell an incredible number of copies.
In conclusion, whether we like it or not, it seems that social networking is the future for the success of the gaming franchise. However, this is already clear as now we see games such as Farmville on Facebook. Games and social networking are becoming woven within one another, this is understandable as gaming is designed for a social, as well as competitive environment and therefore it was a natural evolution for gaming to become deeply connected to social networking.