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Now that we have a general understanding of the massive scale of the online social networking environment, it is important to understand the gaming environment within these social networks, and to a lesser extent the gaming environment overall.

Half of all Facebook users now play games on the site, which puts the number at close to 430 million people. Of these 430 million people, they spend 40% of their total time on the site playing games (inventorspot).

One of the main draws to these social games is that you can play them no matter what you’re age, there could be a 14-year-old boy playing the same games that a 40-year-old woman might play. One of the most popular games on Facebook, Farmville is largely responsible for the surge in social gaming, and after its release in 2009 reached a peak of 84 million monthly users in 2011. The company behind Farmville, Zynga,  has become the world’s largest online game developer and in 2011 posted revenue of $1.1 billion, or 12% of Facebook’s total revenue (usatoday).

Companies have taken note of this recent surge in social gaming and are using this as an opportunity to place their ads in games where everyone who plays will see them. Between the years 2009 to 2011, advertising spending has jumped from $183 million to $293 million (dreamgrow). This is not surprising if you take into account that some of these social games even have a bigger audience on any given night than the most popular shows on television. For instance on a night where Dancing with the Stars is on and draws 21 million TV viewers, Farmville has 33 million people playing at the same time (I’m sure some people are doing both) (dreamgrow).

Social gaming is not all just fun and games though. A lot of the companies that are developing and publishing social games are also using them to raise money to support good causes. Zynga Warcraft has generated $1.1 million in donations to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Mafia Wars raised $100,000 for Coalition for the cure of Huntington’s Disease in March 2010 alone (dreamgrow).

As I stated above, half of all Facebook users play games on the site which amounts to roughly 430 million people. 20% of these people have paid cash while using the games, 56 million people play daily, 290 million people play monthly, and 55% of social gamers are female (dreamgrow). The number that really intrigues me is that 55% of the gamers are female.What I really want to find out is why so many females are attracted to these social games when even a few years ago females had almost no representation in the gaming community.

Sources:

Kaevand, Raul. “Social Media Gaming Infographic” (2011)http://www.dreamgrow.com/social-media-gaming-infographic/

Callari, Ron. “Social Media Gaming Ushers In Age of Micropayments, Facebook Credits and Google.Me” (2011)

http://inventorspot.com/articles/social_media_gaming_ushers_age_micropayments_facebook_credits_go

Willis, David P. “Social Media games have become big business” (2012)http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-02-25/social-games-business/53233968/1

Benedetti, Winda. “Farmville No Longer King of the Facebook Hill” (2011)http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/farmville-no-longer-king-facebook-hill-126208

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