Are There Any Good Facebook Games?

By Jim Rossignol on August 29th, 2011 at 10:02 am.


I had a fun weekend blowing the minds of distant relatives by showing them that the PC can actually run games better than the Xbox. They were pretty sceptical, but a brief trip through hi-resolution land later and they were nodding along amiably. I tried to show my teenage cousin the stealthy, choice-rich excitements of DXHR, too, but he wasn’t convinced. “I just use my laptop for Facebook games,” he said. Sigh. But that reminded me that that I wanted to ask you lot if there are actually any good Facebook games now. Stuart has been insisting that gaudy retro-remakes of games like Pacman-S and New Rally-XS are actually worth visiting Facebook for, and he’s probably right, but I suspect there’s probably some more RPSy games out there.

I mean there has to be, right? Anyone?

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81 Comments »

  1. Squishpoke says:

    Well, there is DOOM on Facebook, so…

    • dee says:

      But it wants to post to my wall :|

      I would feel like such a sellout.

  2. JuJuCam says:

    Cow Clicker

    • :ghiacciato says:

      Seconded. Its tagline is “A Facebook game about Facebook games” – hooray for meta games!

  3. Premium User Badge

    Saul says:

    Can I say potentially?

    http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-21/?action=preview&uid=2440

    Great Ludum Dare game – Facebook integration a bit limited.

  4. Vartesz says:

    No.

  5. JackShandy says:

    Hope you disowned him.

    Echo Bazaar is really good. A modern take on the choose-your-own adventure game.

    • Merus says:

      Echo Bazaar is super-grindy but it’s also so well-written. It’s one of those build-one-to-throw-away games that took off, so the beginning areas when they didn’t really know what they were doing is much less appealing than the later storylines

    • Julius says:

      Another vote for Echo Bazaar here. Great, funny writing, super addictive.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, Echo Bazaar is neat. I’m not sure I’d call it a “Facebook game”, though. Facebook is just one way you can log in.

    • weaselsoup says:

      yep, fifthed. Echo Bazaar is great partly *because* it’s not a typical fb game.lovely world building, really good writing.

  6. kwyjibo says:

    The Sims Social has very quickly, and unsurprisingly become Playfish’s biggest hit. No idea if it’s any good or not, but you guys should tell me that – like it or not, The Sims has always had a home on PC.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Yes, yup, would appreciate you guys investigating that. Or ask me with your money hat on and I’ll do it for you.

    • NotQuiteAllHere says:

      Sims Social is Playfish managing to be even lazier than Zynga – by offering a reskin of Zynga’s YoVille. Take those expectations and bury them. No, deeper than that. Keep going.

    • Ryn Taylor says:

      I gave it a try, but so far I see nothing original, that is nothing in it that plays different than numerous other facebook/social games, and it does those unoriginal things poorly. It’s also very dependent on friends so that you can get maybe an hour or two worth of play in before you have to have friends, not friends would help, but you have to have at least four or five friends who are playing it rather regularly to advance. And that one or two hours worth of game time is mostly tearing down all the weeds that show up around your house when you first load the game. It’s also experiencing a lot of bugs and has a lot of little things that just weren’t designed well.

      Why can’t a “social” game be a new way to interact with your friends and have fun with them instead of requiring us to annoy them to death to get anywhere in the game? I thought the Sims Social was capable of that when I first heard of it, but I am sorely disappointed.

  7. kikito says:

    I’m good at *avoiding* facebook games. Does that count?

    • Dozer says:

      I wish there was a Facebook app that would automatically delete posts written by other Facebook apps.

      “Tedious MacQuaintance has started playing Pyramid Scheme Manager!”

      I get so fed up with needing to block all posts from each new application my unemployed friends decide to play.

    • Terribleperson says:

      Google+ manages games slightly better, with a separate stream for gaming related news… It’s also not even a little bit facebook, so it’s got that going for it.

  8. Pidesco says:

    King’s Bounty, Dungeon Overlord (a Dungeon Keeper alike), the Popcap games.

    • d32 says:

      Real King’s Bounty is soooo cheap – is there any reason to play this one?

  9. NathaI3 says:

    I’ve been trying to get into CivWorld there but that’s the first FB game I’ve tried and it baffles me. WHY do I want to check out the cities of random stranger?
    What else… Vorp! is good. But still in alpha and not very stable. And it takes about 20 minutes to load.

  10. futage says:

    lol, facebook.

    (that’s an ironic lol)
    (a heartfelt one though)

  11. Cinnamon says:

    Pac-Man is a pretty good game… I don’t use facebook, I’m satisfied enough with my personal information being harvested for sinister reasons by google and valve.

  12. McDan says:

    There should be neptunes pride on Facebook clearly, then if there’s a “friend” who’s playing with you that you secretly hate you can take it out on them in the game. And they might even delete you as a friend afterwards, which would be a bonus.

    Also Facebook is already one big game, you think all your friends are there for you to keep in touch with? No! It’s just a simple number game with the number of friends you have being your experience points. It’s obvious.

    • Squishpoke says:

      I wish for the same thing. You can, however, post that you are joining a NP game on your wall via NP’S facebook link thing. It isn’t a full blown app within FB, but it is something.

  13. CMaster says:

    There’s Velociraptor Safari. FB integration goes as far as a friends high score table though.
    Also, if you use Facebook as a social networking doodad, I strongly advise you to disable the Facebook platform, and hence all apps, as Facebook’s security in that respect is terrible. You can do as little as visit a web page on facebook.com, click no buttons, and still give an app the access to send messages as you and view your details.

  14. Benkyo says:

    Thunderstone might be good, but isn’t out yet.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=203593979694500&set=pu.100926749961224&type=1&theater

    Robot Unicorn Attack is always an option, of course.

    http://apps.facebook.com/robotunicorn

  15. TODD says:

    I tried to show my teenage cousin the stealthy, choice-rich excitements of DXHR, too, but he wasn’t convinced. “I just use my laptop for Facebook games,” he said.

    I would have put him out of his misery at this point.

    • Burning Man says:

      Oh, shut up and let us judge people in peace.

    • pipman3000 says:

      Ho hum ho hum that human female of neurotypical disposition some people call “my mother” (fie on them fools i know i am a a robot dragon from japan deep down fie on your gaijin human meatsouls my REAL mother is bahamut) plays those facebook “games” quite often how shall I deal with her RPS

    • killerkerara says:

      My mother plays on Pogo.com. I’ve tried desperately to show her the light, but she won’t have it.

    • Jhoosier says:

      “and as a PC Gamer you’re not exactly looking down on anyone from very high up the totem pole.”

      Actually, being high on the totem pole isn’t a good thing. The lower images were carved by the master carvers because they would be seen up close. The higher ones were usually carved by apprentices. Stuff You Should Know told me that.

    • pipman3000 says:

      Welcome to the top of the totem pole :D

    • mejoff says:

      It’s just trollface drawn straight onto the wood with a sharpie.

  16. Gothnak says:

    I know a decent number of developers at various companies that have had to research facebook games and the general consensus is no….

    Highlights For Me:

    Warstorm: Tyrant – A Little collectible card game which has some depth, just nowhere near a usual PC game. I did finish it though, didn’t spend a penny.

    Army Attack – Starts off feeling a bit like a pretty wargame until you realise there is an infinite number of attackers and the whole game is just fighting off the same enemies forever.

    Empires & Allies – Some people i know got addicted to this. The combat feels like Battle Isle until you realise it isn’t at all, and the whole game is terrible but for a lot of people they’ve already sadly got addicted…

    If you want to know what 90% of FB games are like, play Cityville, it’s the least innovative, most mainstream, most bloody inane ‘game’ i have ever played in my whole life. Terrifying that 200 million people play this every month!

    • NotQuiteAllHere says:

      I agree with Warstorm – it at least had a tactical element missing from 99,9% of FB games. Such a shame that Zynga didn’t continue supporting it.

    • d32 says:

      Warstorm and Tyrant are two different card games, the first one being prettier and less… interactive, while second one uglier, laggier, but deeper

  17. Tei says:

    I am playing Stardrift Empires. Is a straight oGame clone. I have decided that if you are going to play a souless all-adiction no-fun game, at least go for the classics.

    I also played a lot Ravenwood Fair. Is like if FarmVille cheated on Theme Park, and his children was supercute.

    I tried to like the Civ game, but I have no idea how to play, or maybe theres nothing to do (??).

    One game that is probably good is the King Bounty facebook game. Kings Bounty Legions.
    But I got exausted with the original KB, and I don’t plan to play anything like that in years.

  18. Luis_Magalhaes says:

    Dragon Age: Legends has come a ways since launch. As in, it doesn’t require you to pay to have a meaningful experience. In fact, if you have a decent amount of friends playing it, it becomes surprisingly playable. But it’s not a game for 2-hour gaming binges.

    Apart from that… Bejeweled Blitz! But that’s not really a good facebook game, it’s merely a good game on facebook.

    • jeremypeel says:

      It’s a shame Legends is what the flash-based Dragon Age series ended up as. It’s predecessor had serious potential and acted as marketing for Origins simply through its existence. Presumably not effective enough for EA’s investment though, hence this.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I was under the impression that Legends wasn’t being worked on much anymore. Soren hasn’t posted any more designer notes and the BioWare blog has been mum on any new features, aside from G+. Which reminds me, if I have to log in with my EA… I mean… Origin account why is my character data stored on Facebook’s servers?

      But yeah, really wish they had focused on Journeys instead of Legends. A complete shame.

  19. Icarus says:

    I was about to say no.

    And then I remembered this.

    http://apps.facebook.com/robotunicorn/play.html

  20. Vexing Vision says:

    I quite like Dragon Age Legends. But I don’t know how the Facebook implementation works, I’m playing on G+. (Also: Please take me along. Sad summoner-wizard needs Gold.)

  21. Metonymy says:

    Known privacy offender
    No advantage to posting personal details anywhere
    Information collected is making others rich
    Site doesn’t even function without javascript

    Devise a way to permanently alter or destroy information collected by these companies, and that’s a “game” I could take an interest in.

  22. Shouldbeworking says:

    I am, ashamably, playing quite a lot of this competitive tetris game.

    http://www.facebook.com/tetrisbattle?v=app_6261817190

    you supposedly play against another player on the internet. However, I have yet to see a game not start immediately – so if I am playing against another human, its pairing is superb!

    That said, the game itself is quite enjoyable and both my girlfriend and I are playing daily

    • lokijki says:

      I think in that one you’re actually playing against saved replays of other people, not other people in real time. Since the games are always the same length and knocking the person out doesn’t erase the blocks they’ve placed, it doesn’t need to be.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      Either Tetris Battle has the best netcode that has been or ever will be developed or you’re playing against other people’s recordings (hint: it’s the latter). Actually, you can also play directly against someone else by challenging one of your friends, but the random pairings don’t do this.

      This doesn’t take away from it, honestly, unless you let it. My wife plays quite a lot of this and it’s a very decent version of Tetris, with a very neat competitive element and some great skill matching. No paying for anything necessary.

  23. .backslash says:

    If it counts, Robot Unicorn Attack. It’s managed to integrate the social nature of fb just as hi-score rivalry not constant spam.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Stalking, uploading questionalbe photos of folks and tagging them, logging into othere people’s acounts and posting out of character comments.

    Am I doing it right?

    As for more RPS’y you can always reply to things with puns.

  25. Lord Byte says:

    The upcoming Heroes of Neverwinter is pretty damn good! I’m in the beta, it’s a pretty cool turnbased battle game :)

    • jeremypeel says:

      Pray tell (us about it)! Nearly all of those words appeal to me in conjunction.

    • vecordae says:

      In the North, the God-King of Barbarian Wizards raises an army of smarmy undead. To the South, Yomer Guffagallon, the Dread Wordsmith leads his horde of surly dachshunds. And, from the very depths of Khyber, comes a legendary evil long thought banished from the world of Azeroth: The Archdemon Maalox. Neverwinter’s only hope lies in the fabled drow ranger Grobnar Gnomehands and the mysterious power of the Wendersnaven Flute, which allows him to capture monsters and use them to fight against his foes.

      Are you Hero enough?

      Guest appearances by Drizz’t Du’orden, R.A. Salvatore’s Mom, and Ralph Bakshi Limp Bizkit.

  26. jack4cc says:

    Please, take your book face thingy and go away.

  27. malkav11 says:

    I hesitate to describe it as “good” or a “game”, because it’s not really either of those things by the usual standards, but I’m finding Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy curiously compelling. It’s at its heart not much more than a Mafia Wars knockoff, but it doesn’t ask you for money or require you to add friends, so it’s already several steps above the usual fare. And there’s honestly some really intriguing story being told in little snippets and drabs. (Plus it’s linked into AC: Brotherhood somehow, but I haven’t gotten that far in the main AC franchise yet.)

  28. thegooseking says:

    Oddly, the ‘good’ Facebook games seem to be more Facebookizations of classic board games than anything computer-gamey. Lexulous is good (Scrabble itself having nonsensical trademark-related internet oceans), and I’m sure you can probably play a decent game of chess on there. These are games, but they’re not games.

    I wonder why straight conversions of well-known games work well on Facebook, but anything that tries to actually take advantage of what the platform can offer falls flat and sucks. I mean, we know that “video gaming isn’t social” is complete nonsense, right? Maybe it’s because the vast majority of game designers who are smart enough to understand what Facebook can offer as a platform from a game design (rather than a commercial) perspective and make something work on Facebook are the same ones who look at it so dismissively.

  29. metalangel says:

    I think a good Arsebook game would be good even if it wasn’t on Arsebook, but can’t really imagine one that sets out specifically to use whatever advantages Facebook offers (you can decide what those are for yourself) without turning into a shallow, silly grind like Farmville.

  30. RYNOBIG says:

    They need to make a Kingdom of Loathing facebook game!

    • Magrippinho says:

      Fantasy University is a very well written Kingdom of Loathing type of game.

      It’s even more meta and pop culture-y and I certainly enjoyed it quite a bit!

  31. Cosmo Dium says:

    King’s Bounty, Legions. All the flavor and fun of Kings Bounty combat but VS other people. Brings relative depth to the field, esp. for a FB game.

    http://www.facebook.com/KingsBountyLegions

    • Froibo says:

      Yeah I have been enjoying King’s Bounty: Legions here and there, it’s nice and light with the mechanics kept pure. I thought this was going to be another of my beloved franchises killed by the Facebook era, but I can honestly say, this is the first that I’m actually pleased that it exists in this form rather than gone. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the whole “Facebook game” concept before trying this one. With other attempts of games remade for Facebook, I can’t even get through the tutorial before the rage sets in.

  32. Cosmo Dium says:

    Also, worth keeping an eye on Heroes of Neverwinter.

    http://www.facebook.com/HeroesOfNeverwinter

  33. LuNatic says:

    My favourite facebook game is picking on the spelling and grammar of all my acquaintances.

  34. BPLlama says:

    I’ll throw my support behind Kings Bounty Legions and Dragon Age Legends. They’re both decent games despite not having spent a cent on either of them. They’re both starting to get awfully slow and grindy though (although I haven’t dipped into PvP in Kings Bounty yet, and that may spruce things up a bit…)

  35. Moonracer says:

    The big game on Facebook in my social circle is Scrabble. It is easy to play, social and turn based (so you don’t have to be on at the same time as your opponent). My housemates are always playing Scrabble and seem to have several matches going at the same time with different friends. Chess is also a pretty good choice.

  36. Froibo says:

    Another aye for Echo. Fun story and writing tidbits, mechanics become a bit redundant though.

  37. Koozer says:

    Surely games that you can play not on Facebook don’t count. I mean why would you choose to play Pacman on Facebook when you could play it on Newgrounds or a hundred other flash game sites?

    • RevStu says:

      “Surely games that you can play not on Facebook don’t count. I mean why would you choose to play Pacman on Facebook when you could play it on Newgrounds or a hundred other flash game sites?”

      Pac-Man S is not Pac-Man, and it’s exclusive to Facebook as far as I know.

      Also, all the people whining about Facebook having your personal data blah blah – set up a Facebook account in a fake name with no personal data. Bingo bongo, ace games with no privacy issues, problem solved.

  38. jonfitt says:

    Hi Jim,

    Can you define “Facebook game” for us?

    A lot of people are counting games with Facebook integration which could be just a high score table. Is that good enough?

  39. Froibo says:

    The games that would work best, design-wise, would be when developers applied “keep it simple stupid”. Like bejeweled. Unfortunately those mechanics can’t encourage people to feed money to the void and the “F2P” module is working far too well.

  40. Davie says:

    Nope.

    I’d play Realm of the Mad God on Facebook, but it’s not on Facebook, so that kind of defeats the purpose.

  41. moyogo says:

    I’ll do your job if you do mine

  42. thecat17 says:

    Monty Python’s The Ministry of Silly Games — what happened to it? The one and only Facebook game I was looking forward to playing, and it appears their Twitter has stopped updating since January and their blog hasn’t been posted on since December of last year.

    Don’t be vaporware, please. :(

  43. Robin says:

    Restaurant City: Ah, Playfish when they were free to make polished games rather than fend off Zynga’s race to the bottom. It’s a valiant attempt at capturing at least a small amount of what made Animal Crossing special. It has amazing scope for customising your restaurant (you can see why they ended up doing The Sims), and a grinding mechanic that actually does involve a small amount of strategy (figuring out how to arrange your restaurant to be ultra efficient). Doesn’t constantly nag you to pay real money either.

    The Sims Social: As interesting/uninteresting as The Sims in any other form, except now with the meta game of all the Sims in your world representing real people. You can’t kill your Sim. Client is a bit CPU-intensive for something you’d expect people would want to play on weedy netbooks.

    Army Attack: Gripped me for a bit, and I can see people really getting into it as I have Restaurant City. But the ‘energy’ mechanic (forcing you to only play a few moves per day) really hurts it.

    Ravenwood Fair: Probably the best of the ’tile clicker’ type games that Ian Bogost so HIGH-lariously parodied with Cow Clicker. Which isn’t saying much.

    Anything by Zynga: [expletives]

    @thecat17: Well never say never and all that but it’s extremely unlikely to happen now. A shame really as an enormous amount of assets were built for it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      When did you last play Restaurant City? I’d have agreed a year or two ago, not so sure about now – it seems pretty naggy to me (and is all about time limited “collectible” sets that are impossible to complete without spending money…)

      I always wanted Solium Infernum to be facebook-able, rather than emailing files around have the multiplayer pushed via Facebook (or via a server etc.) and games found via your friend list or just from anyone wanting to play….

  44. Gadriel says:

    The best Facebook game is Facebook and the only way to win is not to play.