Together with Weibi, the virtual currency, the Game Center of Sina Weibo was launched early this week. The first invitation I got was from Season Xu, the co-founder of Five Minutes which is the producer of Happy Farm that really smashed Chinese social gaming industry back in 2009. Five Minutes is the first to launch the social game on Weibo, the game is called Micro City which is like Zynga’s CityVille. Unfortunately, I am not a gamer, after 30 minutes of playing, I lost my interest. The game itself I think it is interesting, though.
Obviously, Sina wants to take the advantage of Weibo users’ social graph and monetize it with social games. Sina Weibo has been accepted as an effective information center and powerful media channel by users and even traditional media, but Sina wants more, a new social Game Center. Is it possible? I doubt.
Weibo, from a product point of view, is not like Twitter as it has added many new features. But at least at this stage, it still functions as a Twitter – the information center. How many people are willing to play social games on Weibo given the fact reading/sharing/commenting news, rumors and gossips etc on Weibo has been part of their life; I don’t have the stats of the percentage of Weibo users who use weibo on mobile, but I think there should be many. How are they going to actively play these game? The possibility is not high.
We said before that Sina Weibo users are quite overlapped with Kaixin001’s user base. So are we expecting Sina Weibo to replicate Kaixin001’s success on social gaming? Not easy at all. Weibo as a media is so hot right now and it’s getting harder and harder for users to re-position it as something else. It’s unlike Kaixin001 which gave people the impression as a social game-focus social network from the very beginning.
I am not saying Sina Weibo will completely fail as being a game center. Weibi is good to have for monetization, but I doubt social games will be the big hit into the weibo market. And Sina also needs be very careful of its thousands of celebrities or VIP users. They are the core users generating the valuable information, leave them in a quiet and pure space and better not get them feel spammed in a gaming center.
Of course, the success of Weibo’s game center also depends on the types of games to meet weibo’s users need.