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Google finished off browser games?

Google finished off browser games?


Browser Games are not at their best shape lately and this is common knowledge. Every new year is worse than the previous one. Is this decline due to the games themselves or are there more take into account?

I remember that around 2009-2010, Facebook started to gain traction. This is when the traditional genre of browser games started to decline. At that time, games like Ikariam, Ogame, Zorg Empire, Travian and Tribal Wars were on the rise. Gameforge was very powerful back then, having the most successful browser games on the market.

Then Mafia Wars from Zynga came, alongside with a lot of other Zynga games (Farmville, Cityville) and Facebook games landmarked online games. Since Zynga games were playable from the browser, they had to be considered as Browser Games. However, these games were clearly different from the games mentioned above, who all belonged in the same genre ( Some call it PBBG games ). They were different but surely not evolution - nothing you could actually compare to each other., at the time, was at its peak as well. As a toplist and games search engine, we had some nice numbers coming in and out,daily. The root of our success was a very healthy organic income traffic, which was good enough at that time. It was not only traditional browser games though, that were enjoying success. Even games like Supremacy 1914, who needed a client, were having huge success back then. I doubt that their success is similar nowadays.

Nowadays, we all hear about MOBILE GAMES and that they prevail. But WHY do they prevail?

Are they better games? Do they provide better portability? Are they more immersive? What is it ? Is it the sheer number of mobile users? Most browser games can be played in mobile phones. How better a mobile game is than Pirates Glory for example or Supremacy 1914. Or Reign of Blood? These are all games with good and large communities that have stood the test of time. How any mobile game can claim to be better? Even if a mobile game is better, then the users it will have will be many times more than its counterpart browser game, which does not sound fair for either those who made a browser game or those seeking to play a quality game.

Ultimately, it boils down to exposure to new players. Zynga made huge success on Facebook early on by spamming everyone and everything with its promotion share+win in-game goodies model. When Facebook blocked this, its success has been limited. When Facebook pushed down Pages posts, all games in Facebook platform got pushed further down. When Facebook decided to put more ads over organic content, more (smaller) games were vanquished. Bigger games could afford advertising.

In the same time, Google made the Google Play store - a new ecosystem. Every ecosystem does try to keep everything within it. The more popular an ecosystem is, the more popular the applications on the ecosystem are. In our case games. This gave a further punch at the independent games as we knew them. But this was not the end.

Google has severely changed its organic search results as well. Every developer already knows that there have been multiple updates in the past few years. I remember a game developer claiming "People do not search Google for games anymore". This is not true though. People still search for games at Google but Google sends them to the big guys mostly. Like Google is recently doing with almost every category. I constantly find myself limiting to the top 2-3 sites of google search nowadays (after I skip the 5-6 ad entries) whereas I used to visit 2, 3 and 10 pages of result to find what I needed.

One might claim, hey Google improved its search results as you now need less effort! This is false though, as I can remember many times where I have not found what I was looking for or results were too similar or off subject and always by limited sources. One could say the internet has shrunk in this aspect and perhaps the day that search will stop in the current way might not be too far away. Back to our case though, one of the biggest victims of this change are browser games.

So, one could claim that Facebook gave the initial punch to the browser games and then Google finished them off. Nowadays, Google, Youtube,Facebook and its messengers, are the major destination for most humans on earth. They have the pie and they cut it as they wish and surely browser games are not their only victim but one of the many.

Should we feel a little consolidation about this or a freedom chance that has been lost?

By Panagiotis Bouranis

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