Welcome everyone to the final discussion about CivWorld for the Kotaku Game Club. So we've now played two games back to back: I imagine that some of you are, like myself, beginning to feel a bit "Cived out". I hope, however, that some of you have stuck with it.
Since it's the last day, lets cut to the chase: Does CivWorld stand as proof that Facebook can handle sustained, substantial gameplay? Or is it the exception, proving that developers looking to make games for Facebook should keep their games as simple and light as possible? That's the question I wanted to answer at the beginning of the month.
For better or worse, CivWorld has managed to elude that kind of categorization. It is too similar to its social gaming brethren to make such a sweeping judgment. While throwing teamwork into the mix certainly requires that we think more about how we play the game, the basic session-to-session gameplay is just as simple as it's ever been on Facebook. The reality is that the game is not the genre-killer I had expected.
Relative to the current gaming universe, CivWorld is ultimately best described as Farmville+. Though I'm sure that's a qualification the developers were hoping to avoid, it's not a bad thing: (The plus means it's better, right?) Where social games like Farmville encourage some surface level interaction, CivWorld expects nothing less than real communication between players. The result, aside from the frustration from not being able to do much by yourself, is that CivWorld is first Facebook game I've ever seen that fosters a real community. Farmville is played with the friends you've already got. A good game of CivWorld could lead to you making new ones. In that way, CivWorld is more of a "social game" than any Facebook game to date.
Of course, that assumes that you're willing to pay the game's price of admission, which is very steep. Not the monetary price, of course, but the demand on your time. CivWorld, like many online games, gives you only as much as you put into it. In CivWorld's case, however the minimum amount you need to give before you really feel any true satisfaction from the game is substantial - Much more so than other games using the platform. As we saw, not everyone who's interested in the game, willing to invest so much.
That barrier of entry, combined with the game's inherent competitiveness, creates schisms between the players who take the game seriously and those who don't, re-enforcing that barrier to entry but also strengthening the bonds between the players willing to commit to the game. As we saw in the first game, players kept switching from civ to civ looking for the set of players that best matched their style of play.
I'm still waiting for that long-form gaming experience to elevate the Facebook gaming platform to level of consoles or mobile devices. That's not to say that the day isn't coming: It wasn't so long ago that the best game you could play on a cell phone was brick breaker, now it's a whole world unto itself. Certainly, a game like CivWorld shows how the field is growing - I certainly never thought I'd play a game on Facebook that lasted two weeks.
That's it guys! After the discussion, please make sure you suggest a game for us to discuss next month in the "new game thread". I'll announce the final decision on Kotaku in a couple of weeks or so. Enjoy the rest of your summer!