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by bapenguin
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New Trends in Social Gaming

Social gaming is a gaming market that first began to emerge during the mid-noughties with the rise of social media platforms. Remember Facebook games like Happy Pets and Farmville? They were all early versions of a model that is now sweeping the gaming industry.  

In the past few years, as consumers spend increasingly more time at home, social gaming has begun to rise in popularity. With fewer face-to-face interactions and so many areas of our lives moving online, social gaming gives players the opportunity to connect with and build communities. 

According to Unity, over 50% of regular gamers spend at least seven hours a week playing games online, many of which have a high social element.  

In this article, we'll discuss just what it is that makes games social and take a look at several trends that are now dominating the market.  

What is Social Gaming?  

On one level, pretty much any online multiplayer game these days could be considered a social game. After all, players can connect with gamers from all over the world during the game and even team up and work together to achieve specific tasks in certain titles. However, there are specific attributes and features a game needs to have in order to be truly considered social.  

They include things like:  

  • Friend lists – so gamers can directly communicate with each other and see who is active in the game.  

  • Team building – enabling players to form any type of social group, including teams or even guilds.  

  • Leaderboards – which gamers can use in multiplayer games to see how they measure up against friends or rivals.  

  • Events – time-limited or live in-game events are a feature of modern social games. This can also incorporate tournaments, which add to the levels of competition and camaraderie between players.

Top Social Gaming Trends 

One of the biggest trends impacting social gaming currently is the push for live events. Taking place within a gaming universe, they encourage community and socialisation between players, whether that's by providing straight-up entertainment or asking them to work together to accomplish shared outcomes.  

Take Fortnite's renowned virtual concerts, for instance. The Travis Scott concert, held in-game in 2020, managed to pull in 12 million viewers – and it's been viewed a further 80 million times and counting on the musician's YouTube channel.  

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the in-game research events pioneered by No Man's Sky. The game asks players to complete key missions that help the community map its universe, and they're rewarded with unique benefits when they do so.  

Another blossoming new social gaming market is one that revolves around casino gaming. Platforms like LuckyLand Slots are proving to be popular with casino enthusiasts looking for free-to-play slots online, which they can enjoy with their friends. Instead of competing solo for cash prizes, in social casinos, gamers can choose to play against each other as they work their way to the top of the leaderboard. There are even sweepstakes opportunities on offer for those gamers who enjoy the real money gaming aspect.  

Even the world of work isn't immune to gaming trends, as evidenced by Microsoft's recent announcement that it will be incorporating social gaming functionality into its Teams platform. The Games for Work app is currently only available to Teams Enterprise and Education subscribers, and it allows colleagues to play a series of games, including Solitaire, Icebreaker, Minesweeper and Wordament. Each game even has the option to be played by up to 250 users at any one time.  

Gaming companies are even working together to strengthen the protections that are available to gamers spending multiple hours in the metaverse. 

Riot Games and Ubisoft are two such studios that have teamed up to launch the Zero Harms in Comms research project. While still at an early stage, the project will ultimately "create gaming structures that foster rewarding social experiences".