Most Facebook games are garbage. Zombies? Yeah, nothx. And Adver-games? Watch me hover over my “Ignore” button in anticipation.
So I felt this tension when reading about Parking Wars on Ian Bogost’s latest Gamasutra article because it sounded really fun. The premise of the game is that you need to park your cars (stay with me now). Each of your Facebook friends playing the game (plus three strangers picked at random) get five spaces. Spaces have restrictions on them such as “No Red Cars Allowed”. You gain money by parking your car in spaces over time, but lose money if your friends see you parked illegally on their street and decide to give you a ticket.
You have the “Let It Ride” dynamic of seeing your illegally parked car increasing in value. Is my friend going to sign on and ticket me? Should I move the car? Or should I keep going? The bonus here is that since the streets are operated by your friends, you can use inside information to your advantage. If I know my roommate is asleep, I know I can park on his street with impunity. But what if he wakes up before me and checks Facebook?! It is compelling. The same tension arises when you see someone parked illegally on your street. I could ticket them now, or I could wait for the ticket to go up in value. But if I wait too long, they could move their car and I’d lose out on the ticket revenue. (EDIT: And if I ticket now, their car will remain unparked until they log in again which presents an opportunity cost to your friend!) This is such a simple mechanic leads to a very interesting dynamic.
All of this is to advertise some ridiculous A&E series that follows around meter maids. Now, if I was given an assignment to make a Facebook advergame based on that premise, I’d likely have spun my wheels for quite a while and probably come up with total crap. But the consummate professionals at area/code never disappoint. It was quite a surprise seeing their name attached to the project after I was already addicted since they also created my favorite Flash game of all time.
Simple Idea + Leveraging Platform Strengths + Iteration = Success