More on Communities and Casual Gaming

Some more news from the social gaming world: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has invested $3 million into user-generated casual gaming site Kongregate. Says Kongregate founder Jim Greer:

He looked at it the way he looks at the Amazon seller business. Amazon is a better place to sell your stuff than on your own site, and Kongregate is a better place to host your games. Community is really important. He said you should really consider developers your customers to the same extent that you consider players your customers. That was his big emphasis.

It might not be all sunshine and lollipops for a developer who wants to sell their game through Kongregate though, the main problem being brand erosion. As Daniel Cook points out in his excellent Casual Game Manifesto on Gamasutra:

[Portals] are using disposable casual games to build a loyal community that they can continue to rely upon for years to come. This places an expensive integration burden on the casual game developers. It also increases the chance that customers will look to the portal for future purchases, not the developer of their favorite game.

All these issues reduce the developer's bargaining power and their profit margin.

From a player's perspective though it's good to hear that Kongregate has a (in its deatils yet to be reveiled) Facebook strategy up its sleeve as it will start launching the most popular games as standalone Facebook apps: There's no need to register oneself at another site, Facebook offers every possibility to create a socially rich community around the games, the shelf life of a successful social networked game is much higher due to its viral effect that helps it to keep momentum and if my girlfriend's scrabble-addicted mum is anything to go by it potentially is a great portal to attract casual players.

Although: The question remains how smart it is to limit oneself to Facebook only. As Juan Gril in another Gamasutra piece points out:

But if you are a game developer and you tie your game to just one social network, you are shooting yourself in the foot, as you are losing a lot of the potential audience that uses the other networks. Your best bet is to see how can you create a web game that can be either be accessed from inside a social network and out of it, and make use of the features a social network has...