Games Industry Status – Hooked on Facebook

I’ve enjoyed all of those in the past week, along with a ‘moon’ from a male friend, a bitch-slap, a bite, a lick and a hug. I’ve also been sent presents of a couple of kissing otters and a cute penguin. And discovered that I score 186 (very good, by the way) in the ‘How Sexy Is Your Name’ quiz.

For the uninitiated, I’m not describing a wild, off-deadline afternoon at MCV Towers. Sadly. But in case you’ve ignored every sector of media over the past few months, I’m talking about Facebook here.

The site may have originally been established for Harvard students to get to know each other – and was then rolled out to other educational establishments – but Facebook, unlike MySpace, Bebo or any of the other social networking websites has since massively caught the imagination of an older audience.

And certainly the games industry. Amongst my Friends, there are marketing directors, sales directors, retail buyers, journalists and PRs, plus a couple of well known managing directors (and yes, I’m boasting, but that’s what Facebook is all about).

So what are we all doing spending our time on a website, ‘talking’ to people who we already network with via the traditional media of phone and email – or, Heaven forbid, meet face to face? Well, it’s actually good fun. I’ve giggled at irreverant messages posted on my Wall. And I’ve enjoyed a voyeuristic rummage through my Friends’ photo albums.

But away from the Vampire Hugs and Zombie Bites, there are others looking at Facebook from a very different perspective. And if analysts’ chitter chatter is to be believed, Microsoft is on the verge of buying a stake in the site in a deal that could value Facebook at a staggering $10 billion. And it’s not difficult to see why the Seattle giant is interested.

Rupert Murdoch has already acquired MySpace for an eyebrow-raising sum of money ($580m). And why? Because it’s a database of net-savvy consumers, all conveniently allocated into boxes of ‘likes’ and ‘don’t likes’. What better, more targeted database could there be for an entertainment giant?

Facebook, of course, is slightly different in that it offers users a ‘walled’ experience; you can’t see a member’s profile unless you’re a registered Friend. For now, at least. But it will be interesting to see what plans Microsoft has in this space going forward.

Meanwhile, I’ll be looking forward to my next poke…

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