Trip Hawkins: iPhone and Facebook 'disrupting' traditional games business

Digital Chocolate man says social gaming driving change

Trip Hawkins: iPhone and Facebook 'disrupting' traditional games business
| Digital Chocolate news

Finding out a prominent figurehead for the industry has spoken out in support of mobile gaming is hardly news, but Digital Chocolate president Trip Hawkins has gone one step further.

According to Hawkins, the success of 'social gaming' on both Facebook and iPhone threatens the traditional console-based set-up fostered by much of the industry.

Hawkins, who has previously held numerous influential roles within the console business after founding both Electronics Arts and 3DO, made the claim on his 'Omni Media Gamer (OMG)' work blog.

Dealing with disruption

Never shy of making bold statements, its Hawkins's belief that the way people play games has fundamentally changed of late, placing brands like PlayStation in peril.

According to the Digital Chocolate man, both Facebook and iPhone are "classic examples of disruptive products".

"For traditional gamers, the purpose of a game is to be entertained and to feel good by winning the game. Hence the game is an end in itself," Hawkins claims in the blog entry.

"With disruption, a new market emerges with customers who care about a new benefit that is offered at a higher level of simplicity and convenience. A billion people that do not consider themselves gamers are now playing new kinds of casual games that are not an end; they are a means to an end. And the end, or key new benefit, is the social value."

Pity the PlayStation

Hawkins says the industry had got used to the model of consumers buying consoles for solo play, occasionally branching out to play the big titles with their friends.

Now, he claims, those same consumers have even more of a social bent.

"A gamer that bought the PlayStation had their friends over and walloped them at games like Madden Football. Then he upgraded to the PlayStation 2, but after awhile the friends wouldn't play with him. It shouldn't have been a huge surprise when this guy did not buy the PlayStation 3," he continues.

"And now he and his friends have iPhones and are on Facebook...There are network-connected and social platforms that offer tremendous new levels of simplicity and convenience. These platforms are instantly available and the apps are free and easy to use. And social!"

Cowing the cow

Calling it the "disruption cycle", Hawkins's claims that the "shallow" appeal of some titles on both platforms will soon be a thing of the past - Digital Chocolate's own Facebook title NanoTowns a game, he believes, that is driving change.

"Disruptive products always start out less powerful and with fewer features than their predecessors and they add more power over time," he concludes.

"A new generation of Facebook social games is on the cusp and we will be seeing big leaps in areas including innovation, the quality of art, the quantity of animation, the depth of gameplay and the legitimacy of really playing socially with your friends instead of just 'spamming' them to adopt the lost cow."

Digital Chocolate
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.