Grand Theft Auto: The Facebook Game? Dream On
If there's one game that would make a likely crossover from hardcore to the social/casual gaming space -- it's Grand Theft Auto. If you've played the blockbuster video game series and Zynga's Mafia Wars, it's easy to draw parallels between the two. Both star characters climbing the crime ladder by completing missions, surviving firefights and currying favor with allies along the way.
If Take Two CEO Ben Federer's panel at the New York Game Conference is any indication, that's not likely to happen anytime soon. Even though the company is releasing its music game/application Beaterator for iPhone and recently announced that it was partnering with the China-based Tencent to release an yet unnamed NBA-licensed game -- we won't see a Grand Theft Auto (or even a Borderlands or Bioshock) game in the casual space due to production values -- or the lack thereof -- on these platforms.
"[We're] promotional on Facebook, but not for profit on Facebook and Twitter," says Federer. "It's interesting and we're taking a look at it ... but production values of big games versus production values on Facebook is a little different."
In the meantime, we've seen other big game companies, such as Ubisoft, embracing Facebook as a way to expand its gaming portfolio. The publisher responsible for blockbuster video games like Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia created a social game called Tick Tock, where players send each other bomb, and the impact of the explosion is determined by how many trivia questions the bomb-ee can answer about their Facebook friends.
The question remains: are Hollywood-style production values a must for making a successful game these days? That might be the MO for Take Two but games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars -- both among the most popular Facebook apps, period, seem to be telling another story altogether.