You Ask - We Explain: Social Gaming

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by Dave Brown
Social Gaming Explained

The entertainment industry consists of many different segments and social gaming is definitely one of the most profitable of them. With estimates that speak of 750 million players who regularly engage in a form of social gaming, it is easy to see why this form of entertainment keeps growing by the day.

People of all ages and in all walks of life have always had an attraction for playing games together and the technology advent in recent years has allowed them to do just that in the most convenient, simplified and easily accessible way possible. The rise in the number of mobile games and online social platform gaming options is more than obvious. Traditional computers and gaming consoles are losing serious ground and this has helped social gaming makes its debut and keep evolving. Plus, the way people choose to access and play games has gone through some transformations. Players are now more familiar with the idea of freemiums and they are more inclined to pay for unlocking new game levels or tips that can help them finish a game faster.

The Definition Of Social Gaming

Social gaming refers to playing games online or via mobile devices together with other friends or strangers while sharing and comparing progress within the game using social networks. Social gamers can either play together with or against their friends and be a part of chat rooms and leader boards. The games can be played simultaneously or not; the social element, however, is king when it comes to social gaming. Ideally, players would be physically sitting next to their friends or competitors while playing a social game to enjoy the maximum advantages of socializing. However, logistics do not always allow this to happen. Nevertheless, social gaming is oftentimes considered the highest quality gaming experience anyone could ever enjoy.

What Are The Main Characteristics Of Social Games?

To gain a deeper understanding of what social gaming truly means, it would help to know what social games are, to begin with. For starters, they are different from other games thanks to a few specific and well-established elements. In short, they feature a solid structured with specific rules that enable players to interact with one another.

Here are a few of the most common defining factors of a social game:

  • Social games are turn-based. They are played with another person and not a computer or a robot. In other words, social games require players to take turns when playing, even though this is not something mandatory, but rather something that is more frequently found in this type of gaming.

  • Social games require players to be aware of other players' actions within the game. If you are familiar with Facebook games that let players watch each other's progress in real-time, you might understand what we are talking about.

  • Social games are not ideal for players who like to spend every second of their spare time playing games. On the contrary, it is something that casual gamers might find more appealing.

  • Social games are played in multiplayer mode - every single time. This means they need to be played by at least two players, but the numbers can easily grow by the hundreds.

  • Social games find inspiration in today's social platforms and they also revolve around them, as players can receive instant push notifications and create their avatars or player profiles/accounts online to play.

What Kind Of Social Game Models Exist?

Free Games

These games enable players to enjoy free access to the gameplay since the costs are covered by ads usually found within the game.


Freemiums refer to games that can be accessed and played free of charge, but which come with specific features and extra options made available for real money. Players can benefit from extra tools, cheats, maps or extra lives to significantly expand their experience.

Virtual goods are those game items that players can earn within the game, win or purchase player using real money. These goods can be used to improve the intrinsic gaming experience and have no other use out of the game. They can also come in the form of virtual rewards given to players as bonuses or gifts during their gaming – think in terms of free bonus rounds when playing slots online. Players can either enjoy superpowers they can use for a limited amount of time to boost their level faster or something else.

Paid Games

Players who are bothered at the sight of ads interrupting their gameplay are given the alternative o paying to have the ads removed from within the game.

Subscription Games

Players who are familiar with console games already know this payment model. Subscriptions can be either monthly or yearly and they are fees paid in exchange of players receiving access to a game or a special feature in it. Gamers are given the chance to select their favourite payment options.

The idea of playing a free social game while making a few in-game purchases or paying a small game subscription seems to be more appealing than the thought of paying for a new gaming computer or a console game.

The Social-Gamer - who is it?

Shortly put, anyone looking for a fun and easy form of entertainment with zero risks. These games are played by people of all ages, both genders and from all different walks of like, no matter what their location might be. Studies have shown that casino-based social games are more attractive for older players, while strategy gaming is preferred by males aged 21 to 35. Younger females seem to be the biggest fans of simulation and quiz-style games.

Compared to online casino gamers, the social gamer is known for his/her high engagement. More than 50% of open accounts on social gaming platforms are still active after 6 months (compared to 8% of online casino accounts!).

Part of social gaming is the connection with social networks. This can be compared to the typical gamer of online casino games who rather wants to play in private and is less engage with others. Exceptions are online bingo and poker players. 

Social gamers often play an average of 2 hours per day while the average real money casino player plays every fourth day. There are of course those that play casino games daily as well but the main difference here is the issue of real money. Social games can be played for money but it's usually the social, free aspect of the games that attract the player and not a dream of winning a large sum of money as when playing at a casino. This may explain why a casino player rarely continues to play for free after he's out of cash on his gaming account. Studies show that 93% prefer to log out and stop playing if they can't make more deposits or get free credits from the casino. A social gamer, on the other hand, is more likely to swift to free versions and 60% continue his gaming by choosing free games. 

Top Companies That Develop Social Games

Mobile games have also had an amazing contribution to the growth of the social gaming industry. Since social gaming incorporates lots of free-to-play features, a player will be able to enjoy the game for free for a limited amount of time. They will also be given the alternative of in-game currency and this characteristic is not only valid for gambling-related social games. Lots of puzzle or strategy games have captured the interest of a large number of passionate players.

1. KamaGames

Currently known as the largest social mobile poker operator in Europe. The company is also the fastest-growing operator that works independently. Their passion for constantly innovating the social gaming industry has helped them build a remarkable portfolio consisting of free casino games currently played by more than 630,000 players on a daily basis. You might be familiar with their flagship game called Pokerist Texas Hold'em that has been ranked in 101 countries on the App Store and also in the top 5 grossing apps in 45 countries on Google Play.

2. Social Gaming Network

A company that actually evolved from and it was initiated by Shervin Pishevar. The launch of their incredibly successful games Warbook encouraged lots of sponsors to fund their activity. Today, they are a highly successful cross-platform developer of games you can frequently find on Facebook, iOS, Amazon and Android. Games like Fluff Friends Rescue, MindJolt or Bubble Atlantis are some of their best titles. The company is totaling more than 200 million games installed on social media as well as mobile platforms. They are the next-gen in terms of social games thanks to their advanced proprietary technology that enables games to be built and distributed to all known platforms.

Game of Thrones as Social Game from Zynga3. Zynga Gaming Network 

Mostly famous for their Texas Hol'em game that counted more than 500,000 players access on a daily basis on Facebook at the time it was launched. With more than one million installs on another popular social platform, the game has managed to attract huge fundings over the years. The company's goal is to “connect the world through games” but they are also highly focused on everything technology-related. Zynga is known for games like Farmville and Farmville 2.

For someone who plays casino slots, one recognizes the popular title "Game of Thrones". Played at an online casino this game is known for paying out really well. As a social game by Zynga, you will not be able to cash in your winnings but instead, you can share your coins with your friends and invite them to play with you. So what do you prefer, play the game and win money, or invite your friends and plan your next conquest in the game chat feature? 

4. Gaia Online

Founded in 2003 by a few comic book fans in a small garage and it turned into the fastest-growing hangout over the internet. It offers millions of teenagers the chance to come together in a social and engaging environment where they can play casual games online, see whose virtual outfit is better, chat or express their creativity through poetry, to name just a few of the activities on the platform.

Besides some of the most dominating social casino developers mentioned above, we also have great companies like Playtika, known for being responsible for craze-creating titles like Slotomania or WSOP, or Aristocrat Technologies are known to have bought Big Fish Gaming for $990 million. DoubleDown Interactive is another company worth mentioning here, along with High 5 Games. PlayFire allows you to connect with Facebook friends, with you can upload your images and Pwned connect you with other gamers that share your profile interest.

Types Of Social Games

  • Casual Games

These are traditional online video titles such as Bejewelled or Wii Play and they can be played after paying a play-to-play type of a subscription or as a single purchase. They can be played on computers and gaming consoles.

  • Arcade Games

Arcade games are game machines that are operated by coins and they can be commonly found in amusement arcades or pubs. The game of pinball is one of the most popular games that is still found in the form of numerous mobile apps and online games.

  • Video Games

These are the games that players usually buy during a one-off purchase and which require computers or game consoles to play.

  • Social-Network Games

These games revolve around the social network element and they are integrated into a social platform.

  • Board Games

Players are required to place, move or remove pieces on a previously marked surface, in accordance with the game's rules.

  • Alternate Reality Games

These games feature a highly interactive narrative and they rely on the real world as the gaming platform.

  • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

These are massive role-playing video games where massive numbers of players interact with one another inside a virtual world.

  • Casino-Style Games

These are considered subsets of social games as they enable gamers to engage in games that look like the games usually found inside casinos. in a casino. Card and roulette games are just a few examples of casino-based social games with high rates of popularity. They are not, however, real casino games, so players cannot win or lose any real money. Accordingly, they are not classified as social games.

Is Online Casino Games Considered Social Gaming?

While players can join their friends during poker tournaments or live roulette games online and share the gaming experience, these games are not considered social games. Since online casinos are comprised of licensed services that enable players to wager on the result of a game of chance for the opportunity to win money, they do not match the definition of social games. For a list of recommended (licensed) casinos on the internet click here; Online Casinos

Can Social Games Change The World?

More than the simple entertainment-based motivation pushing people to play social games, something else seems to be also capturing their attention. Namely, the world change social gaming is capable of and players' desire to be a part of it. For example, Sojo Studios, the creators of the highly popular WeTopia free Facebook game that enables players to turn their points into money donations for charities for kids and animals encourages gamers to play for a good cause. They managed to provide one million days of school for children in Haiti, 700,000 hot meals for children in Las Vegas and 7 million liters of clean water for Haitian children and 6,500 clothing articles for kids all around the globe. These are just a few of the numerous charity actions they managed to complete with the help of their players' contributions when their games were launched. The company also works with the Best Friends Animal Society and Save the Children and they promise to donate half of their profits to these charities and others they work with. And they are not the only social gaming companies doing good deeds.


Another social gaming network that makes impressive donations of its in-app purchases and ad revenue to worldwide charities. They have managed to change more than one billion lives by helping reinvent the way people make charitable donations with the help of games. They managed to raise $6.7 million in funding and they have hundreds of games that help various charities, including Chernobyl Children International and Camino Verde.

Other articles in our "You Asked - We Explain" Serie;

You Asked - We Explain: Cloud Gaming

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