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Social networking sites as market research for games


Chances are, you're on one (or all) of the major social networking sites out there -- MySpace and Facebook, being the two that stand out most. Vancouver-based Gnosis Games wants to utilize the time spent on these sites towards developing retail video games. Already, it plans on bringing one of its casual Flash-based games to the Wii. Candy Arcade is a (shock!) collection of sugar-themed mini-games.

Facebook has allowed Gnosis Games to share a small taste of these games, such as the surprisingly addictive "Sugar Blitz" (pictured, above). Not only does the application offer organic word-of-mouth marketing for the team, it gives them valuable feedback on what players like and dislike. Yes, the comments and Wall posts offer good clues, but Facebook's tracking tools offer even more insight into the habits of gamers. Through the Facebook application, Gnosis can see how players find the game, how long they play, and where they go within the application. If a cheap Flash-based game does well on Facebook, will it translate to retail success? That's what Gnosis is hoping for.

Plans for integration with social networking sites goes beyond simple market research data. The community encourages competition and bragging. Imagine if unlocking an achievement in the retail game unlocked avatars for display on one's Facebook page. The Xbox 360 Live Gamercard application already has us showcasing our conquest for more Gamerscore. The interaction between social networking and video game marketing has only begun -- expect it to become prolific as more marketing teams jump on board.

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