There’s a decent article/interview with Charles River Ventures representative Susan Wu over on the Worlds In Motion website (Link). Here are a few excerpts:
“The distinction between what Facebook and an MMO looks like is going to disappear,” Wu says. “All social interaction online will be driven by game mechanics.
There are all these Web 2.0 conferences, and Web entrepreneurs basically talking amongst themselves in this insular environment, and I see the same thing in the gaming industry, which has always been a cottage industry and very segregated. I see so many different parallels going on in these two communities
“One of the hallmarks of a successful Web company is — if you look at the track record of the most successful companies that have stayed independent and sustainable, like eBay, Google or Amazon — they have built platforms [which can] foster entrepreneurs. There are ecosystems that spawn innovation from the community members themselves, and Facebook is falling in with that too, with the new platform launch.
I’ll just say that I see other parallels; most notably in the serious games arena and Product Lifecycle Management applications.
Also, while I agree Facebook has created its own (walled garden) ecosystem which is helping to spawn new applications/widgets (much as MySpace did), I don’t equate Facebook with eBay, Google or Amazon. Those companies still serve pretty much the same audience to whom they originally were targeted. Facebook doesn’t. I consider that a rather big deal considering what Facebook provides.
Susan is right, but also there is that factor of the platform enabling people to do things they enjoy. Each of those companies have that factor. There is a lot to be said for helping people do things they enjoy.
And that’s partly why I have a problem with equating those three with Facebook. There’s a growing chorus of complaints from the younger crowd that their community has been adversely impacted by opening Facebook up to anyone. Whether that’s true or not is debatable – I suspect it really isn’t – but there does seem to be a perceived impact on their enjoyment.