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Minimum specifications on a Facebook game? Are NOVA mad?

By on May 13, 2011
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I’ve just installed a first person shooter on Facebook. It’s called N.O.V.A. Elite and it puts me off from playing it before it even starts.(And which idiot has a game that can only be searched for by spelling the game name with.its.full.stops.between.every.letter?)

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Firstly, it’s got loud music pumping out as you as soon as you launch (due warning: don’t try to play this game in an office or environment where playing games is frowned on). Then you have to dive through an sub menu of an options screen hoping to turn the blasted thing off. Don’t the developers realise quite how much of Facebook gaming takes place in an office?

But then, underneath the normal Facebook iframe, the developers have put these gems:

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Minimum system requirements on a Facebook game?

Surely Facebook is about open accessibility. It’s about not having to worry about compatibility and memory and all the dull stuff like that. Not like PC gaming.

Not according to Gameloft, who are the developer behind it. For them, the race is on to turn Facebook into the nightmare of system specs and minimum requirements that turn so many people off PC gaming.

Boo to them. Double boo.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • Not quite. Music that is not easy to turn off is always a no-no, I reckon.

    The min spec is not even that important, especially when it was so low. I was bemoaning that they thought it was important upfront.

    The complex control scheme – that’s the only one that is important, and isn’t just misunderstanding Facebook. Yes, there will be Facebook games that use complex control systems. Facebook is just a platform. It’s just a place to connect with your friends. However, if you misunderstand what FB is about, you’ll neer make a good FB game.

  • Jack K Wulff

    Ok, that makes sense, and is a shame. Hopefully they have a decent live team to fix it.

    If it was done right, using the good bits that facebook has to offer, do you think a game with loud music, a min spec requirement, and a complex control scheme could be successful on facebook?

  •  I think my point is that they are not trying something different on Facebook; they are trying something identical from the offline world (a boxed product FPS, complete with minimum specs, complex instructions, intrusive music etc).
    In other words, they are not trying to bring the FPS to Facebook. They are trying to pretend that Facebook is just another platform, like console, or PC. It’s not, it’s fundamentally different, and they are ignoring all the good bits.

  • Jack K Wulff

    I don´t understand what you are trying to say Nicholas. Why would you not applaud anyone doing something different on Facebook? Yes, there are things that could need some work, but it hasn´t been out that long. Launching early and fixing based on userdata is what facebook is about, isn´t it?

  • Gary Howard

    Played it, didn’t like it. If you want to play a decent web browser FPS – play Quake Live.

  • I think that there’s a chance this genre or style of game (i.e. something other than the current “casual” “cutesy” games) could do well on Facebook – but it’d have to actually leverage some of the things you need to plug yourself into on Facebook to do well – at the very least the social hooks (and maybe asynchronous multiplayer, high score charts etc.).

    I come at this from the angle of “hmm wish I could use Facebook to organise a multiplayer game of X” though rather than the somewhat condescending “hey let’s put a REAL game on Facebook”

    By the looks of it all this lot have done is slap a standard FPS into an iframe. Shame.

    For what it’s worth I don’t think the existence of the minimum specs is an issue (I’ve found machines that die horribly when you try to play Restaurant City – insert joke about flash performance on macs) just putting them front and center as if it’s a boxed game in a shop seems mental. It’s free, let them try it, if it doesn’t work have a button that says “this doesn’t work?” or “running a bit slow?”

  •  I agree that the Appdata doesn’t look very promising. A number of things imply that Gameloft haven’t really understood social yet.

  •  I agree. It seems crazy to include these specs at all. everything about this game is designed to put people off. Weird.

  • Those specs seem very inclusive (and likely to be required for most Unity games), even if the auto-playing music is bad and their funnel could probably be improved overall. On the other hand, I would think we will see it more and more as more Facebook games will target hardcore genres. Even with much lower conversion rates than casual facebook games, the sheer volume of traffic on Facebook can make it a good bet if your retention and monetization are good (which I’m not sure of in NOVA’s case looking at AppData).

  • Tom Piercy

     Actually, more than anything, I love that they have the middle mouse button assigned to Punch, Stab, Throw Grenade and Change weapon! On paper that does seem like it’s going end badly.

  • It’s not just about the requirements. Look at how many keys you need to learn. And the music! And the way it looks! This isn’t the sort of game that can work on Facebook.

    The creators just think that the sort of game that works on the PC will work on Facebook and they are wrong.

  • Simon Roth

    Looking at those specification, they can pretty safely remove that screen anyway. Even the cheapest netbooks nowadays have enough ram and CPU. (graphics is a problem, but why not offer a “lofi” button for faster framerates.

  • Simon Roth

    Looking at those specification, they can pretty safely remove that screen anyway. Even the cheapest netbooks nowadays have enough ram and CPU. (graphics is a problem, but why not offer a “lofi” button for faster framerates.

  • Stoooooopid.