If you don’t succeed the first time, try again . . . and again. Microsoft is launching a new foray into casual this time around social games. That’s Microsoft’s mantra, and it seems to work fine for them.
Today, Microsoft is launching a series of new casual game and social game initiatives, including a partnership with CrowdStar to release their games on a variety (and I mean, a variety) of Microsoft projects.
- Microsoft is re-launching its games portal, MSN Games (preview), with more competitive casual and social games. The activity streams are similar to what they have been offering on Bing Games for the past year.
- Microsoft is integrating social games into its Microsoft Instant Messenger platform.
- Microsoft is expanding its games offering in Bing internationally.
The content linchpin is CrowdStar. CrowdStar, the number two social games company, is launching their games throughout the MSN Games portfolio of offerings. Though Zynga signed a deal with MSN and already left, this deal appears a lot more encompassing. Companies like CrowdStar and Zynga must diversify off of Facebook or sell out to the highest bidder (a k a, Disney and Playdom), so this is a good step for CrowdStar.
This appears to be a good step for Microsoft, but in the end, it will not work. Why?
The reason why Facebook and Apple are so successful in casual and social games is not just their massive user base. It’s that they offer a single and simple games offering. Want to buy or sell a game on an iOS device? Go through iTunes. Want to distribute a game through Facebook? Use the application APIs. No matter where you are around the world, people will find out about your game through their activity stream.
Microsoft is centralizing their efforts but it’s still 3 – 4 different products. It’s a shame, really, in that Microsoft should know better.
With hard-core games, they have one single platform. It’s called the Xbox. Wisely, Microsoft Mobile 7 integrates only with Xbox, not with Bing Games, MSN Games, Instant Messenger Games.
I know their casual and social game approach is confusing since it took me 45 minutes to write this article just to get my head around all the changes.
Why don’t they just kill all their casual game fiefdoms and just offer one simple product like they offer for hard-core gamers. They would be able to target their audience better and offer game companies and casual gamers a better and simple product.
As long as Apple and Facebook target casual games like a laser beam and Microsoft and Google (yes, I am adding Google here, and for very good reason) offer a myriad of over-lapping products, Apple and Facebook will remain the dominant players.
And game companies, no matter what business deals they strike, will continue to be dependent on Facebook and Apple for the majority of their revenues.