Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Xbox Live Arcade "too small" for Farmville

Insufficient "social potential", says Zynga

Facebook resource management sim FarmVille is one of the world's most popular online video games. Xbox 360's Live set-up is is one of the world's most popular online video game networks. Surely then, putting the two together makes perfect sense? Not so, says the game's developer Zynga.

During a chat with IndustryGamers, Zynga's chief game designer Brian Reynolds explained that Xbox Live was just too small a pond for the developer to bother with.

"The thing that seems to make social gaming and networking magical is the fact that all my friends are potentially there and they might see the things that I'm posting or doing or expressing," he said.

"[Xbox Live's] too small a demographic. Think about, of my friends, how many of them own an Xbox 360? Well, I'm a game developer and I even come from a triple-A space so we might even be in the double digits... 20 or maybe even 30 per cent of my friends might have an Xbox 360, but effectively 100 per cent of them have Facebook and effectively 100 per cent of them have a mobile phone. Of them, probably 90 per cent have a smartphone.

"So when you think about the social potential of a platform... if we made a game on Xbox Live, I think - forgetting about the fact that I might have an artificially high percentage of friends that do it because of what my profession is - the number of anyone's friends that's going to be able to participate in the social experience is going to be a very small number so the amount of social capital that there is isn't going to be very high."

Some figures to help put Reynolds' comments into perspective. As of February 2010, Xbox Live had 23 million members, while in January this year Facebook boasted 600 million. FarmVille had 62 million active users as of September last year.

Read this next