Insomniac opens Facebook, mobile division

Resistance developer unveils Insomniac Click, forges "Contract With the Audience" promise to layout priorities like fun, gameplay depth.

Insomniac Games is expanding into the world of social games. In a post on the developer's official blog, chief creative officer Brian Hastings today announced the formation of Insomniac Click.

Insomniac is now the company behind Ratchet and Click.

A new division within the Ratchet and Clank and Resistance developer, Insomniac Click will focus on games for mobile devices and Web platforms like Facebook. In his post, Hastings stressed that the move will not impact Insomniac's traditional console-based development focus, noting that all Click employees--excluding himself--were newly hired for the project. Additionally, the new division will strive to make a different sort of game than those for which Facebook is best known.

"Many social games out there are more activities than games," Hastings said, "that is, a set of tools but no problem. For instance, you plant crops and then harvest them to make more money so you can plant more crops. Your tools are: pick a crop, plant it somewhere, harvest a ripened crop. But what problem are you solving? There really isn’t one. You can’t succeed and you can’t fail, and that’s part of the fun. But at the same time, without having a problem to solve, it’s less of an actual game than Tic-Tac-Toe."

To prevent Insomniac Click's titles from fitting into that same nongame category, Hastings laid out a five-point "Contract With the Audience," spelled out below.

1. Social interaction must be mutually enjoyable. Imagine you had a friend who left five voicemails on your phone each day asking you to join his time share in Alaska. This would seem like pretty antisocial behavior, even downright pathological. But in the current social gaming landscape, this is often the norm. Many games outright require you to ask for gifts from friends to complete even the most basic goals and tasks. And the underlying problem is that neither the asking nor the responding is inherently fun. If you’ve played these games, you’ve seen the pop-up windows where you send a “request” to any or all of your friends so that they send you a peppermint stick to help build your gingerbread house. But clicking that window isn’t fun. And being the recipient of the request isn’t really fun either. If the gifts were rare and unique, it would be fine – just like getting a gift in real life. But when the giving and asking for gifts becomes the central gameplay experience, it is no longer fun for either party. We promise to create social interactions that are fun for both players.

2. Game tuning must benefit the player experience. It’s no secret that social games are actively tuned to what are commonly known as “The Three Rs”. These are Reach (the number of people playing the game), Retention (the number of people who come back), and Revenue (money earned per day.) It’s standard procedure right now to carefully test every decision to see which one increases one of these three factors. This often results in things like “hiding” the button that chooses not to spam all your friends. Or making the default payment transaction the highest possible amount so if you’re not paying attention to the radio buttons, you’ll end up forking over $100 in a single click. Or displaying a series of five pop-up promotion windows each time a player starts the game. Each of these things must have had a positive effect on one of the Three R’s, but each one also detracts at least a little bit from the overall player experience. In console development, since the revenue is mostly paid up front, developers are free to focus solely on player experience. Maybe this is idealism talking, but I think it’s possible to create social games that focus on improving the player experience first and foremost and that the Reach, Retention, and Revenue will naturally go up when people are enjoying the game itself.

3. Gameplay Depth. We want to create worlds to explore, challenges to master, and a continuing story to discover. We promise to deliver the richness of gameplay content that you would expect from a console game, but freely playable online.

4. Easy to Learn, Hard to Master. We promise to make a game that anyone can learn and play within a few minutes, but that takes months or years of practice in order to become one of the top players in the world.

5. Make It Fun First. Our strategy is to first create core game mechanics that are fun to play independent of any social framework. We then integrate the social aspects of the game in ways that people naturally enjoy playing together.

Insomniac is just the latest core game developer to embrace the social gaming trend. Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, THQ, and Electronic Arts have brought their respective Assassin's Creed, Civilization, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Dragon Age franchises to Facebook. Meanwhile, companies like Capcom and Namco Bandai have built on their mobile expertise to break into the Facebook business with new efforts like Smurfs' Village and Treasure Abyss.

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Discussion

86 comments
jazzyrider
jazzyrider

interesting although it makes sense to change things up a bit. hope its a good gaming project and step forward in the right direction.

Scorchstar
Scorchstar

@Savior4Life have you not played NOVA on facebook. its the awesomest free 3d online shooter, better than ps2 graphics

Scorchstar
Scorchstar

The only good game on facebook is NOVA, its the best 3d online shooter and its awesome graphics, better than ps2 graphics and no download

ersten
ersten

"Insomniac is now the company behind Ratchet and Click" Clock. I think I'm gonna laugh all day.

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

I have no intertest in casual, fast food, throw away games on FB etc.

Savior4Life
Savior4Life

Facebook games are lame..... Waste of time and talent.

fabz_95
fabz_95

I just hope it doesn't make them deviate from their core games.

onthe_dl
onthe_dl

I'm so glad gaming companies are finally starting to realize you need to give more than just excellent gameplay to have a successful franchise. You need to keep your customer engaged with the media so that they'll revisit the game and NOT trade it in. The serious gaming market has been almost perfected. We all know what hardcore gamers expect out of top notch games. The problem is keeping the weekend gamer involved in the game when he isn't at his console. I used to game all the time until I found a career. Now I'm almost never playing video games because I'm on a computer all day at work, and when I come home I'm either studying or playing musc. I'm sure there are several people just like me. I'd love to see a persistent character that you could do mini-games on a smart phone to improve skills. For example tiger woods with your own persistent character. On an iphone/andriod app, you could work on iron accuracy or putting drills that directly influences your players stats in the full version of the game. So when I finally sit down to play tiger woods I know my character has improved and I've added more incentive to play the game.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

I'm actually quite concerned about the direction Insomniac are going.. Concerned because I think they're starting to lean more towards casual then proper gamers. All we need now is for Resistance to go multi-format and then I may just shoot myself.

Booyakz
Booyakz

@miniruss I believe they are alluding to the new division of Insomniac Games created to build facebook games, known as Insomniac Click. Here's hoping they live up to these goals!

mtait01
mtait01

if they do it right, it could open a whole new benchmark for social games... still, facebook games usually suck and just pollute my Wall with nonsense

miniruss
miniruss

Did they really spell Ratchet and Clank wrong on the picture caption? It says "Ratchet and Click" Or am I missing something...

TheLordHimself
TheLordHimself

Why are people assuming that this will disrupt their work on Resistance 3 and All 4 One? And why are people hating on facebook gaming? If you don't like it, don't play it.

pszone
pszone

soz to say i think should start to crap Ratchet and Clank for gd since they no longer with sony that i want this game company go under and broke because they still thinging ratchet and clank will still sell one word for the comapny get over it or you go under

Hig1134
Hig1134

Playing games on facebook sucks...end of story. Try playing real games people...if you enjoy it so much on Facebook, it'll probably blow your mind.

BILLNYE6983
BILLNYE6983

@Solid_Tango Read the article. This is an entirely new group of people. I love how people on gamespot think that these companies have one group of employees that does everything. I heard someone during the PS3 v Hotz stuff say, "Sony needs to focus on games". Their lawyers make games? The people they hired likely only have experience making these games. It is likely a small and very cheap project as well. It does not effect other games. It is most likely just to get 'games' out there that will essentially be advertisements for other Insomniac games.

steelmouth
steelmouth

@Tevi wow thats a lot of thumbs down Ratchet must be pretty big in the world of ps3 for you to get that thumbed down

steelmouth
steelmouth

Please Please guys the crappy Wii games are bad enough lets not do any worse with this whole facebook social games, most those people are not gamers and they never will be and i bet they the ones consuming the cheap pirated games, honestly do you think this non gamers will pop up $60 or what ever full price for a mere game, i always have a hard time justiying buying games to this lot for $90 a game (Yes new AAA games cost an equvalence of that much here in Bots)

mezbahaque
mezbahaque

Games on fb, c'mon man, even if u do do it, itll be laggy and of course, its gonna be out of purpose, besides fb is about connecting, if u do want to play multiplayer gamesin the internet, y not just get those kinds of games forthepc, then ask your friends to play with you, all im saying is that develop pc games which can connect with the internet and produe thoe games

Solid_Tango
Solid_Tango

This news makes me a sad panda ;( They should be putting more effort towards other projects if they have so much free time :/

Arter01
Arter01

@IdolConverge Did you not read the part where they say "newly hired for the project" They, as in the people already developing, are still making Resistance 3, and are losing no time because of this division

white_wind
white_wind

@1234dragonsky search for : chocobo's crystal defenders and knights of the crystals. both app on facebook by Squeenix

don_dalati777
don_dalati777

try working in an office then tell me facebook games arent fun when your boss leaves for lunch..... looking forward for my lunch breaks now......

magusat999
magusat999

Its unfortunate that they could come up with nothing better than Facebook to run the platform. Anyone who plays games on Facebook can relate how dampering they are to the very games they are supposed to support. Mark Suckerbird even publicly stated that Facebook will NEVER be a gaming platform - so why jump on a ship with holes in it? What social gamers need is a social site that supports gaming - no restrictions on who can be your friend; no restrictions on "how fast you click / post"; no restrictions on the number of interactions between users. Despite the obvious motivation behind jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, which is Zynga's success, games like Cityville and Mafia Wars are success IN SPITE OF Facebook's involvement - not "because of". If there were a more game friendly host out there, or if a company like Zynga were to host it's own games I believe they would have the kind of success that would make your head explode - what we see now looks like success, but it's just a small preview of what could be if they would get away from Facebook. The best we can hope for is that all of these heavy hitters coming to Facebook will be able to bend them to their will and our benefit - otherwise its a sad day for social gaming indeed.

DBZKING1234
DBZKING1234

Tidus: AHAHAHAHAH... AHAHAHAHAHAH... AHAHAHAHAHAH

IdolConverge
IdolConverge

Why? It's just a waste of time, time that could be better spent on, oh, I don't know, RESISTANCE 3?!?

AlphaForceOne
AlphaForceOne

how about making a good ratchet and crank or resistance game instead?

dipsetboy17
dipsetboy17

it's just some money on the side don't worry people.

inso-maniac
inso-maniac

how about a real ratchet and clank game not that all for one crap

guyguyguy1234
guyguyguy1234

Well, if you're going to tackle the Facebook/ Mobile market, then this is the way to do it.

Di3oxide
Di3oxide

I reckon this is a great idea, whether it be for business purposes or not. Insomniac could be one of the leading game developers in the world both on Facebook and on console. We shouldn't be so negative about such decisions. Insomniac games could help us see the full potential of games that are on Facebook. We, as fans, must show support-For the greater good of gaming:D

CD-i_ownz
CD-i_ownz

(Insert Imperial March theme here)

CamoBullo
CamoBullo

Resistance Facebook? No thanks, I'd rather not.

jumpy46
jumpy46

If it has any gameplay depth, it might be worth checking out.

smfes
smfes

facebook games. damn that's just ugly.

BenGenio
BenGenio

I see people buried my last comment with thumbs down. Let me explain myself. We need to stop being so selfish about the things we want developers to do. When I said this is a good decision, I meant this is a good "business" decision. I don't understand why Console and PC developers can let companies like Zynga make millions and millions of dollars on a platform like Facebook, while developers like Insomniac are investing so much time and money to produce a high quality game like Resistance and Ratchet & Clack. I believe that developers like Insomniac are talented and creative enough to make low budget, low-risk, fun games for the casual gamers that play games on Facebook, and make a lot of money off of it in order to continue developing more games. We need to give these developers a break, they work hard to deliver high-budget quality games, now it's time to work smarter and focus on new platforms as well, while investing less compared to other platforms. This will hopefully help them become more creative, take more risks when innovating in the future. As long as they continue supporting platforms like Consoles and PC's, I think we shouldn't worry. Who will win in the end? Us, the gamers.

packtop
packtop

@darkcomedian I tried them once and it was bull**** so i kinda agree with you but can't say i will never play them who know maybe someday facebook will have good games.

darkcomedian
darkcomedian

I use facebook, but I have never, and will NEVER play any of those dumb Facebook games.

Kenshiro_Kenoh
Kenshiro_Kenoh

people play games on facebook? WTH i thought it was for picking up hot chicks lol

eyerok
eyerok

thank God, now all the FB users can actually play some REAL games for a change!

jamccain
jamccain

f$%^*% hate facebook too go play real games farm vile freaks

NanoElite666
NanoElite666

Insomniac sure has been keeping busy as of late, what with the opening of a second studio, starting work on a new multi-platform series, and now this. As a longtime Insomniac fan, I wish them luck in their endeavor. If there's any developer that can turn out a worthwhile game out of this Facebook gaming shenanigans, my money's on them.

NodakJo2010
NodakJo2010

@monson21502 YOU DO KNOW that Insomniac only made the first 3 Spyro's right?

ktseymour
ktseymour

Umm, yah. Money is the reason people work and in order for employees to get paid, businesses have to make money. What a concept...but yah, Fbook is the G word.