Games.com's 2011 Social Gaming Predictions: How did we do?

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Toot My Own HornWell, not to toot our own horn, but beep-beep. As it turns out, we did pretty darn well, thank you very much. At the start of 2011, the Games.com team sounded off on what we thought would be the top trends of the year. It's been a crazy year of ups and downs, bringing about the most impressive social games to date.

Almost more importantly, 2011 also brought the most interesting developments. And we pretty much called the lot of them. Some might call it back patting, but we call it ... a retrospective. Here's how we did in our predictions for 2011:

The Mobile Explosion

Our list devoted entirely to the best mobile social games of 2011 pretty much sums this one up. Social games broke out on mobile phones in a big way this year, so much so that some traditional companies have either focused huge portions of development to the genre or simply reorganized entirely to that end. Zynga released eight mobile social games this year alone. Boom.

3D is Gonna Take Off

Hey, we never said social gamers were going to dig it. Numerous 3D games came out on Facebook this year ... and none of them did as well as we might have hoped. However, the push for 3D games on social networks hasn't slowed down. Flash Player--what almost all social games are made in--now supports 3D. Better yet, the hardcore games creation tool Unreal Engine now supports Flash, as does the Unity Player. Next year will be different, we promi--wait, never mind.
CityVille

CityVille Shall Fall

Alright, so this one didn't happen at all. But we came pretty damn close, right? We know, horseshoes and hand grenades, but at least The Sims Social threatened Zynga's stranglehold on the social game market. While EA and Playfish's social masterpiece has been on the decline for some time, it still has disrupted much of its competitor's top games.

Interactive Billboards?

We're sad to say this prediction was 100 percent on the money. Unfortunately, branding in Facebook games has only become more popular. Just look at the number of celebrities featured this year in Zynga's top games. At least we've seen some gems that make sense, like Indiana Jones's takeover of Adventure World. Farmers Insurance in FarmVille was clever, too, but an ad is an ad.
Zynga zTag Project Z

The Zynga Network

While it wasn't exactly what any of us expected, Zynga announced Zynga Direct, popularly referred to as Project Z. We figured this would be The Big Z's move to escape Facebook, but the social network appears to be baked right in. This leaves us wondering just what value zTags, similar to Xbox Live's gamertags, will add for its fans much less Zynga.

The Advent of the Advergame

Another sad-but-true prediction, advergames, or branded games as some like to call them, exploded in 2011. Almost every TV series you can think of--from Weeds to The Vampire Diaries--has launched a companion social game. In fact, Game of Thrones will soon get its second tie-in Facebook game. At least that Dexter Facebook game was pretty neat-o.
Order & Chaos Online Facebook

Facebook MMOs Go Big Time

Not quite. We've certainly seen more MMOs come to Facebook in 2011, though none of which were any good nor successful. The combination simply makes sense on paper, but perhaps it's just not a good fit for the more casually-minded social gamer. Now, if you count Facebook-connected MMOs, we were right without a doubt.

The Fat Cats Get Fatter

Zynga acquired some 17 companies since 2010. How's that for fat cats? Hell, EA bought the biggest name in casual gaming for a whopping $1 billion. Looking at the disparity between even the top two Facebook game makers and the rest of the market, according to AppData, we'd say this estimation was about accurate, wouldn't you?

Facebook Gets Friendly Again

While social game makers will never see the viral success they did in early 2010 ever again, Facebook has made strides to support its game creator community. Sure, Zynga has quite the deal with the social network, but the company has made numerous changes to how games are presented on the network for all developers. Although to the dismay of many, Facebook even championed the top games on the platform with the rest of us.

By our math, that's seven out of 10. Not too shabby, huh?

What do you think of our predictions for 2011 compared to what actually went down this year? How did your own predictions pan out? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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