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The ten best social gaming articles of 2012 – part 2

Amongst all the cat pictures and Gangnam Style tributes there’s a wealth of social gaming knowledge on the internet. For over two years we’ve been collating the best social gaming articles and publishing them in our This Week in Social Games (TWISG) newsletter. Read by over 1,000 subscribers.

With the year coming to an end it’s time to highlight the best of the best – the ten most insightful articles based on the percentage of clicks by our readers. From finding out what’s in Zynga’s ‘secret sauce’ to how to get your first 1,000 players, plus a handful of articles on making money by giving stuff away from free, it’s all here.

If that’s not enough, you can also read part one of this blog from back in June and get the twenty best social gaming features of 2012.

If you’re not signed up to TWISG yet, you can do that by clicking here.

So let’s begin with….

1. The secret sauce of social games

Reading this article from The Verge is the perfect way for anyone new to social games to become an instant expert! Featuring contributions from Zynga, Kixeye and Storm8 it looks at everything, such copycats, in-game spending, Whales, trends in game design and much, much more. Even if you think you already know it all, you will still find something new.
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Viral mechanics: FarmVille 2

Following on from our post on the viral mechanics employed in Sim City Social, this time we’re turning our attention to FarmVille 2, the sequel to the biggest social game ever!

The original FarmVille is only three years old and still has 3.2 million users logging on to tend to their virtual farm each day! Considering FarmVille at its peak had 83 million monthly active players it’s clear to see that a lot has changed in those three years. For a broader view of the changes Zynga has made, take a look at this short video:
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Viral mechanics: Sim City Social

In the first of a series of posts we’re examining the viral actions employed by some of the most important social games.

In this post we’re looking at EA’s Sim City Social. The gaming giant’s ‘Sim City’ brand used to be the biggest name in city building sims, until Zynga arrived on the scene. Now EA hopes to open Sim City up to a new market and bring existing Sim City players into social gaming.
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Kid’s online gaming in America

As part of our on-going research into online gaming, during the first quarter of 2011 we conducted a piece of research with 2,000 children in America regarding their online gaming habits.

The research focused on their access and use of gaming devices, their use of social media sites – specifically Facebook, and online virtual worlds. There was also a focus on games developed by Zynga.
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An 18 year-old wishes Facebook didn’t exist

This is a guest post by Stephaine Whitely

I’m 18 and I genuinely wish Facebook hadn’t even been started.

Yes, I use it daily; I have it synced to my phone so I don’t miss a wall post, a status update, or a photo tag. As much as it hurts me to say it, I probably couldn’t live without it, but for me, teenage life would have undoubtedly been easier without it.

Next time you’re on Google, type in your name, see what comes up. When I type in my 13-year-old sister’s name I see her Facebook profile, her address, and even her phone number. Privacy settings? I Doubt she even knows what they are.
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If bolting wings onto a car wont make it fly don’t expect that tacking a Facebook Connect button into a game will make it viral

Having spent 10 of the last 20 days shivering, shaking, and wrapped up in bed with only Mr and Mrs Flu for company (the Chocolate Orange twins checked in occasionally) I’ve had a lot of time to think how viruses propagate.

Although I’m no Sherlock Holmes, or medical professional for that matter, it’s safe to assume my relationship with flu began in the back of a dimly lit karaoke bar the day before Christmas Eve.

At Dubit, karaoke is not something we take lightly. Not sure which pub to go to for lunch? Sing off. Air conditioning at 70 or 74? Sing off. Last Rolo? Sing off. Karaoke is a central pillar of our dispute resolution process – it’s in the employee handbook.

After months of practice and hours of painstaking choreography, the Dubit Christmas party is the highlight of our karaoke year. Only this year, the event was soured by an unwanted visitor. By Christmas day 10 of the 30 singers reported retiring to bed with aching bones and a raging fever – flu. If that were a virtual world or social game we’d call that a viral ratio of 0.3 and be pretty pleased with ourselves!

As I watched the Dubit flu pandemic unfold on Facebook I started to think about how our own social games can emulate that rapid viral growth – but without the nausea and unpleasantness.

Viral Growth

Like bolting wings onto a car wont make it fly, adding an ‘invite your friend form’ into a game doesn’t automatically make it viral! Flight and virality are two concepts that really ought to be designed in from the start. So where do we start?
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