Facebook Gaming Numbers Declining

While just a year ago gaming on social networks was thought to be the next big thing, it could already be on its way out according to new figures.

The beginning of 2011 saw the high point of the social gaming phenomenon, at least according to official Zynga numbers. At that point almost 300 million people played Farmville, Mafia Wars or their equivalents each month. Fast forward to just 12 months later and that figure has dropped to a smidge over 220 million.

This new report from IHS could suggest that it's just Zynga titles that are falling out of favour. Of course 2011 saw the social gaming giant launch some of its own developed titles like Mafia Wars 2, though that particular one performed pretty poorly - especially when compared to the original.

"Facebook rocketed to prominence as a gaming platform in 2009 and 2010," said Steve Bailey, senior analyst for games at IHS. "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."

The numbers are still strong, with potential for continued online gaming via social networks, but it might begin to change throughout 2012 and onward. With HTML 5 soon set to make its own splash on browser based gaming, we could see hardcore gamers making more of an impact in the market - or at least, those interested in more graphically intensive visuals.