Social gaming companies are being acquired right, left and center. RIM has just splashed out on Scoreloop. The top 2 Japanese social networks have been active in getting involved in mobile social gaming. Following the move of its rival DeNA, which spent $403m buying US social mobile publisher ngmoco in October last year, GREE has bought social games platform OpenFeint in a $104m deal.
There’s a lot of activity and a lot of companies playing in this space. Xbox Live is part of WP7, Sony is almost certainly bringing social gaming connectivity to Android with PSN (see my previous blog on the topic), Apple’s Game Center, ngmoco / Plus+, OpenFeint, and one could argue Facebook Connect as well. How many gamer identities do I have to have? The simple fact is that today, each game will only use one platform, but as an end user with multiple games, that means I have to sign up to multiple social gaming platforms. The pertinent question is which ones I sign up to (and actually use) because this will determine the winners and losers.
The advantage ngmoco, OpenFeint, and Facebook Connect (if you count that as social gaming) have is that they cut across gaming platforms and so perhaps have a greater chance of achieving critical mass. That will be a major factor in deciding the winners. With all the other platforms having some sort of built-in audience, the onus is on OpenFeint and Plus+ to woo developers and end users while they have a window of opportunity. Facebook Connect lacks gaming features, Apple’s Game Center is a poor effort, and there is time before Xbox Live/PSN hit mobile in any serious way. However, stumbling now could be game over for these (previously) “indie” platforms.