To many a casual Facebooker, Facebook is all about the games. From riveting titles like “Feed your fish so they don’t die” to the action-packed adventure “Growing fake plants in virtual dirt”, Facebook games have captured the hearts and minds of the massive casual audience that so many others have failed to grasp.
You might think, then, that Facebook might consider building a game or two of their very own? Heck no, says Zuck.
Mark Zuckerberg dives into the logic of avoiding game development in his interview with Charlie Rose (which, while it may be a daunting wall of text, is definitely worth a read through if only to catch Sheryl Sandberg making fun of Zuckerberg for being too young to remember CallerID):
Zuckerberg: Games is probably the biggest industry today that has gone really social, right. I mean, the incumbent game companies are really being disrupted and are quickly trying to become social. And you have companies like Zynga (which are going public soon and will be valued most likely at multibillion dollar valuations, and basically all of their games are built on top of Facebook for the most part) And a huge number of other companies as well.
So I mean, does Facebook build any games? No. We build no games.
Rose: You say that today –
Zuckerberg: No, we —
Rose: You say that today –
Zuckerberg: No, I’m pretty sure we’re not going to build any games.
Rose: I’m only saying this because people thought that Steve Jobs would never go into retail, and he did.
Zuckerberg: I’ll tell you why. Because building games is really hard. And what we’re doing is really hard. And we think that we’re better off focusing on this piece. I think that building a great game service is really hard. Building a great music service is really hard. Building a great movie service is really hard. And we just believe that an independent entrepreneur will always beat a division of a big company which is why we think that the strategy of these other companies trying to do everything themselves will inevitably be less successful than an ecosystem where you have someone like Facebook trying to build the core product to help people connect and then independent great companies that are only focused on one or two things doing those things really well.
In other words: Facebook is good at building platforms for other people to build on, and they know it. Why step on toes? Why do the work that others are better at, and willing to do for you? They’ll build the foundation, work in a way to shave some money off the top, and let the cash roll in.
They’ll let Zynga do the games, Netflix do the movies, myriad streaming services do the music, and Facebook will just connect the dots — or as Sheryl Sandberg repeats throughout the interview, “connect the world”.