If 2010 was the year that Facebook games hit everybody’s radar, and 2011 was the year where they tried to stretch their legs, 2012 was the year where they finally found their footing. This was a year where Facebook games became deeper, longer, prettier, and on occasion, more daring in their direction and scope. In a nutshell, it was a great year to be a Facebook gamer.
Of course, not every great game managed to make our list. And not every game that the public seems to think is great really was. In fact, only one of the current top 5 games by monthly active users (according to AppData) made the cut here. Are we crazy? Maybe. If we are, be sure to let us know your top picks for the Best Facebook Games of 2012 in the comments below!
#5 – Zynga Slingo
When it comes to casual games, I don’t think there’s a single brand out there as old as Slingo. It’s been around on the web since 1995, and after countless reimaginings, rethinkings, and refreshings, it’s finally back where it all started – as a free game on the web. But this isn’t just any version of Slingo. As far as we’re concerned, it might just be the best Slingo yet. Top notch animations, power-ups, objectives, and leaderboards that keep you striving to one-up your friends make this a perfect “just one more game!” Facebook experience.
#4 – Candy Crush Saga
If you’re looking to write a “developers of the year” list, you’d have a hard time ignoring the success of King.com in 2012. A string of hits have proven this European developer has everything it needs to be Pepsi to Zynga’s Coke. They’re a real competitor in the social space, and they’ve backed that up with some really great games. Their best? That’s easily Candy Crush Saga.
There are match-3 games aplenty on Facebook, but unlike the competition, Candy Crush Saga offers up a string of increasing challenging match-3 puzzles to solve within a limited number of moves. If you’re looking for a match-3 game that’s more of a noodle-scratcher than a mad high score rush, Candy Crush Saga is the tasty treat you’re looking for.
#3 – Outernauts
Pokemon-style monster gaming is one tough nut to crack. The prevailing wisdom amongst game developers seems to be that, unless you’re Nintendo, don’t even try. Thank goodness Insomniac Games wasn’t inclined to listen to prevailing wisdom.
Best known for console games like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance: Fall of Man, Insomniac’s first step into the world of free-to-play social games was a surprisingly exceptional one. On paper, this is a game that had all the odds stacked against it: a monster battle game, a core developer exploring the social space – these things almost always spell disaster. Yet Insomniac demonstrated how well they understood what makes both things tick, and delivered a turn-based battler that’s, well… the best thing since Pokemon.
#2 – You Don’t Know Jack
Remember the nineties? Me neither. One minute I was in a flannel shirt, the next minute Ricky Martin was livin’ La Vida Loca. It was a terrible time – but at least we had You Don’t Know Jack to see us through.
And while it may have taken some time for everyone’s favorite video game trivia series to make a return, You Don’t Know Jack on Facebook was well worth the wait. Not only does it retain everything you loved about the originals – from the wacky questions to the voice work of fictional game show host Cookie Masterson – but it makes a great use of the social nature of Facebook gaming. Every round you’ll square off against opponents asynchronously (it’ll remember their round-by-round scores for you to compete against), letting you know who amongst you is the real king or queen of trivia mountain.
If you’d told me in January that a licensed superhero game would make our pick for 2012′s Facebook Game of the Year, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But here we are, at the end of the year, and I can safely say that Avengers Alliance has sucked more hours out of my life than any Facebook game before it. It’s formula for success? Uniqueness, enticing updates, and a brilliant use of the Marvel Comics license.
Avengers Alliance earns the ‘uniqueness’ qualifier because, well… there’s really nothing else like it on Facebook. Sure there are role-playing games out there, but none that manage to so succinctly boil combat down to the essentials of what makes turn-based RPG’s so much fun. Characters all feel unique in their skillsets, and there’s plenty of variety to be had when figuring out what combinations to use in any instance. Combine that with the wide (and ever-growing) selection of characters to buy, and special missions and tournaments that dangle exclusives in players faces for completing, and you’ve got an experience that has kept players coming back day after day since its launch.
With another year come and gone, Gamezebo is looking back at the best games that 2012 had to offer. Our month-long retrospective will touch on just about every type of game you can imagine – so be sure not to miss any of it! Check out our full collection of Best of 2012 articles, and vote for your favorite games in our 2012 Reader’s Choice awards.