There's no doubt that social games hit the big time this year. When Lady Gaga sticks her nose into something, you know it's huge. In fact, this was probably the best year for the genre yet, seeing new sub genres emerge and others refined (slightly). However, not everyone can be a winner: 2011 also saw likely the most shut downs and closures the industry has ever seen. And, believe it or not, a lot of those games were better than most. So, here's to you, the top 11 social game casualties of 2011:
How does Diner Dash, one of the most popular mobile and browser games ever, fail on Facebook? We haven't in the slightest, but we do know it's just not fair. Diner Dash certainly didn't invent the sub genre, but it was one of the first to try it on Facebook. Flo, may you continue to serve the hungry populace well into your golden years in our phones.
The Oregon Trail
Blue Fang Games
This take on the ubiquitous educational game took some leaps when it came to asynchronous social play, granting your friends semi-crucial roles in your success across the trail. Said leaps seem to have even inspired other games. Alas, even with intriguing approaches to social game mechanics, a fun art style and a stellar brand, The Oregon Trail just couldn't hang.
While this writer never had the pleasure of playing SPP! Ranch, the legions of enraged players in our comments are testament enough to how dearly missed this game is. When Google closed social app developer Slide, the adorable SPP Ranch! wasn't doing so hot to begin with. But the game's most dedicated fans are still waiting for an answer to their cries.
Arguably one of the many city-builders that inspired the mighty CityVille, Social City was consistently a top 25-game on Facebook in 2010. It even scored Best Social Game at the GDC Online Awards last year. Alas, Zynga's biggest 'Ville happened, and Social City just couldn't compete. That's OK, at least you have hidden-object games, Playdom--oh, wait.
This vessel voyager certainly wasn't the first of its kind, but it did it in style. Pirates Ahoy! had 3D graphics before most games even attempted such a thing. And while the combat wasn't terribly interactive, at least it was a treat to watch. After the game slipped in performance, Playfish simply cut the cord. Rest easy: There are plenty more fish--er, pirates in the sea.
This was one of the most refreshing, unique and imaginative social games of 2010. While bound in the usual tropes of social games, Flutter approached them with captivating visuals and a side-scrolling play style. We loved the game so much that it made our top 10 list in 2010, likening it to indie critical hits like Flower. Luckily, according its creator, Flutter is just sleeping.
Blue Fang Games
When we first saw this social take on the king (queen?) of educational point-and-click adventure games, we were pretty blown away. Rather than simply ask friends for yet another nail for the barn, players had to collaborate with one another (and Google) to decipher clues. However, it takes more than just a good idea and a strong brand to succeed on Facebook.
You can almost say this resort simulator was Tiny Tower on Facebook before it even hit the iPhone. Hugely popular back in 2010 for its quirky visuals and addictive, literally vertical progression, Hotel City was watched closely for a while. Unfortunately, more robust simulator games came along and stole the spotlight, thus taking the wrecking ball to Hotel City.
Little Cave Hero
If you mushed arcade classic Dig Dug and one-time social game juggernaut FrontierVille into a ball of retro Facebook deliciousness, you'd be pretty close what Little Cave Hero was. But to inch even closer to what this gem was, throw in some fourth wall-shattering humor and you're right on the money. Sadly, this game disappeared soon after its creator was acquired.
Chocolatier: Sweet Society
This port of the classic PC casual game had a good run on Facebook, and was a personal favorite of several Games.com staffers. Chocolatier put an interesting twist on the basic simulator game in that players had to actually create what they sold. Alas, that and the allure of chocolate simply weren't enough to keep players away from competing simulator games.
The Big Z didn't develop this impressive card battler, but rather got in a package deal when it acquired Challenge Games way back in 2010. Since then, the company never seemed to pour the attention into it that it did, say, FarmVille. Or maybe it was just that, engaging as Warstorm was, fans of Magic: The Gathering don't exactly flock to Facebook for trading card games.
Which of your favorite social games were shut down in 2011? Did they make our list? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.