Eve Online, one of the longest running and most popular online role playing games, has announced their own social network exclusively for players of the game, and it’s called Eve Gate, or affectionately referred to as “SpaceBook”. The social network allows players to make their own profiles, post messages on each other’s walls, see game information about one another and even see a news feed reminiscent of the Facebook news feed.
Social networking is affecting games of all types even if they aren’t strictly Facebook Games. Eve Online, a long running games famous for its realistic resource management and empire building paths, is a game with a relatively small user base but an extremely loyal following. To play the game, you need to pay a $14.95 monthly fee (with discounts for longer subscriptions), and that translates to tens of millions in revenue. Leveraging the social network concept to power its own game is something we may see more and more often. Facebook can be influential on these social networks but only because Facebook establishes the common UI that people understand for social networks.
We’ve seen console games like Blur recently leverage Facebook Connect and sites like GamePoints.com and Farmville.com leverage Facebook while being outside of Facebook.com, but those are distinct from this news in that they connect to the larger Facebook social graph. One of the key questions that a large game developer can ask nowadays is whether building their own social network is a superior option to connecting to the viral Facebook social graph. What’s your opinion?