Facebook gaming on the decline — Report

According to a report from market analysis firm IHS iSuppli, social media giant Facebook’s gaming boom has come to an end.

The study says that the movement has begun to simmer primarily due to “rising barriers to entry” for new companies that may want to release new content on the site, “increasing competition” from other social media sites and smartphones that also provide gaming content, and the fact that gaming has just become less of a priority for users.

Despite virtually spearheading the social gaming movement, Facebook saw its percentage of monthly active gamers sharply decline in 2011, the study claims. Whereas 2010 saw around half of the site’s monthly active users (or MAUs) serve as gamers, 2011 saw that percentage drop to around 25 percent. The site is expected to hit around 1 billion users by the end of 2012 according to various reports (thanks, Huffington Post).

Zynga, the site’s perennial gaming powerhouse, also saw their numbers slip as a result of this general decline, as their MAUs slipped from 266 million to 225 million within the span of 2011’s fourth quarter alone.

“Facebook rocketed to prominence as a gaming platform in 2009 and 2010,” said IHS senior analyst for games Steve Bailey. “However, with equal speed, the market then settled into a state of maturity in 2011, with conditions becoming markedly more challenging for game operators. While Facebook remains a worthwhile opportunity for companies able to meet these challenges, the tone of the market in 2012 will be somewhat muted compared to the optimistic outlook of the past few years.”

IHS suggests that social gamers are looking for more capitvating experiences nowadays, stating that “there’s been a trend away from the more accessible game genres and toward play styles that require greater commitment or skill, in return for deeper senses of engagement.”

Despite its claims that Facebook gaming’s “honeymoon is over,” the study makes sure to note that the the internet’s 2nd-most visited site (behind Google) will “undoubtedly” remain a major player in the social gaming landscape for the near future.

Personally, I know I still have a few more games of Words with Friends to wrap up. But it would appear that the days of virtual crop raising, mafia shootouts, and the like may be dwindling.