Leveraging social networks to build a userbase

Facebook and Myspace both have over 30 million users. As the creator of a browsergame, you’ll be lucky if your game even sees a tenth of that userbase – but what if you could put it to work for you?

Image that you’re building a browsergame that needs to reach a certain ‘critical mass’ to be actually fun(perhaps it has a strong PvP focus). What can you do to hit that critical mass quickly?

While it’s not for everyone(and there are other ways to achieve this), you can build applications for the popular social networks that either are your game, or integrate into your game – perhaps displaying the stats of your characters and a link to play your game.

Hooking your game into one(or more) of the myriad social networking websites out there lets you hook into their massive userbase – without having to worry about getting them there in the first place. With just a handful of friends who are willing to put your game’s widget/box on their profile page and an interesting enough application, your game’s userbase can easily explode overnight – although if that happens, you’ll need to be careful that the same thing doesn’t happen to your server!

At any rate, social networking sites(and interesting initiatives like Google’s OpenSocial) are making it easier and easier to get your game out there and in front of as many potential players as you can – if your development schedule allows for it, I highly recommend building an app for at least one social networking service to help get your game out there and in front of as many potential players as possible.

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Luke is the primary editor of Building Browsergames, and has written a large portion of the articles that you read here. He generally has no idea what to say when asked to write about himself in the third person.

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 advertising
  • Whane The Whip

    As mentioned in a previous comment, I'm not a coder so it's easy to come up with ideas and leave all the work to others. That said, I have an opinion regarding social marketing. "Hooking" your game with a social network is easy enough, as you mentioned, an addon that displays stats works with some limitations. But "hooking" the people within that social network is different. Ultimately you want a click and sign up.

    I have often wondered at those stat displays and thought it would be cool if I could somehow affect that player by clicking something within the display. I'm not sure what that might entail but it should certainly help the promoter and myself too assuming I signed up, and it should be made clear within the box that viewers can interact with that player.

    This extends the boundaries of the game to beyond the website, even if in a small way. I wonder what would be possible here.

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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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