The “Facebook App Economy” Proves the Value of Gaming

The “Facebook App Economy” Proves the Value of Gaming


Though many naysayers continue to shrug off the serious impact of gaming in our culture, there’s no longer any room for doubt in how it is effecting our economy. A recent article by Leena Rao for TechCrunch highlights a study by the University of Maryland of what is being referred to as the “Facebook App Economy” – Companies like Zynga, Playfish and The Learning Company, who have been producing some of the world’s most popular social games have also been creating a great deal of new jobs during a period when people are in desperate need.

According to Rao, the Facebook App Economy is responsible for creating upwards of 200k new jobs and contributing over $12b in wages and benefits this year alone. The reach of social media is already somewhat staggering – Facebook has well over 700 million registered users and more than 80 million of those users have been plowing fields in Farmville alone.

Other companies are continually finding ways to use gamified social apps to connect with users, so the industry is likely to keep growing. Though things are still difficult job-wise for many in the US, as these companies keep succeeding and expanding, lessons in visual design, analytics, and game mechanics can be applied to business and projects outside of games. As Gabe Zichermann mentioned in the introductory debate for Gamify for the Win at Wharton, “The foundations of the industry that we are laying out to build, the people who are driving this discussion forward are actually changing people’s lives.” If things keep going in this positive direction we might eventually be able to play our way towards more engaged lives and a more stable economy.


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  1. “Though many naysayers continue to shrug off the serious impact of gaming in our culture, there’s no longer any room for doubt in how it is effecting our economy”

    Just to clarify, you have used “gaming”‘ “social games”, and “gamified” in this post. Three different things. And most of the hard-core naysayers of “gamification” have the opposite view on the “serious impact of gaming in our culture.” yet again, it is the confusion and conflation of these terms (and what they may represent) that makes statements like this meaningless.

    I have not encountered many at this point who would EVER shrug off the “impact of gaming”. This has very little relevance in discussions around gamification. Social games, depending on the context, is a greyer area, but nobody can argue with Farmville revenues (well, actually they can and have, as the “Zynga revenue plummets 90%” news shows how the ways in which we calibrate “revenue” matters as well. Not to mention that Zynga derives the vast majority of income from a tiny fraction of users. But it is a big frickin’ number. Though what that “proves” in the larger discussion around gamification is unclear.

  2. The vast majority of game developers would not label Farmville or any game like it a “social” game. Those games are only social in the sense that they are developed for Facebook.

    Journey, by Thatgamecompany, is an example of a real social game. Sleep is Death is another example of a real social game.

    Any tabletop game, while not necessarily social in the genre sense, has a strong social component, one that is stronger than any Facebook game. Why aren’t gamification proponents looking at these kinds of games?