Microsoft Research releases Facebook game for 'research'

Project Waterloo
Project Waterloo

Sure you are, guys--we're onto you. The Research division at Microsoft has released its first Facebook games, Project Waterloo, in order to find out how people interact and negotiate with one another across social networks. The game is a turn-based combat simulator in which players allocate 100 generic troops across five locations. In a way, Project Waterloo works a lot like Zynga's Words With Friends.

Of course, we're referring to the one-on-one, turn-based gameplay, not the words. Players challenge friends with allocations of 100 troops either using a slider or directly entering a number in each location on the battlefield. Said friends can then respond with their own strategic positioning using 100 troops, and if they don't currently play the game, they will be invited prior to responding.

So, it might help to think of Project Waterloo as a cross between games like Words With Friends and the classic board game Battleship. Players can also start games with random players, regardless of whether they're Facebook friends. Project Waterloo, according to a post on the Microsoft Research website, is the start of the "Facebook Game Theory Lab." This will serve as a platform through which Microsoft Research explores concepts of strategic human interaction within "resource allocation and negotiation games." The team of four researchers wrote:

The goal of the project is to test the behaviour of real people in game theoretic interactions, and especially those that take place in social networks. Some example questions are: how do people negotiate with one another? How does such negotiation take place in social networks? How can we aggregate opinions of individuals to arrive at high quality decisions? In what ways do people reciprocate other people's actions?

Project Waterloo in action
Project Waterloo in action

While it doesn't appear that Project Waterloo will be a source of revenue for Microsoft Research's parent company, the team does use words like "viral marketing" to explain how it will reach new players. Ultimately, we don't see a game like this taking off commercially, but it is another step in that direction, as Microsoft has already expressed interest in entering the space. Just recently, the company began to offer support to developers through its Windows Azure service. Perhaps Project Waterloo and the Facebook Game Theory Lab represent Microsoft further testing the waters.

Click here to play Project Waterloo on Facebook Now >

[Via ZDNet]

What do you think of Microsoft's very scientific foray into Facebook games? Do you think the company would ever dive into the industry like Google or Facebook has? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

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