Leaderboards have been prevalent in games since the early arcade days. The appeal of incorporating leaderboards in your game is obvious; it encourages repeat plays as the player strives to climb the leaderboard and improve their score, while also competing against others who play the game.
In many of the articles I have read on social gaming, comparisons have been made between the ‘low investment, short play’ nature of arcade games and their social counterparts. But one thing visibly lacking from social games are leaderboards.
Of course the style and genre of most social network games varies massively from the score attack style arcade titles but all games have score systems and are inherently competitive. Why aren’t there leaderboards for XP in Cityville or Ravenwood Fair?
Bennett Foddy, developer of indie hits QWOP and GIRP raised a very interesting point in the latest indiegames.com podcast, speaking of players who would boast about and feel proud of making it as far as ten metres in QWOP, Foddy says:
“I didn’t make it obvious what would count as doing well in QWOP… If I was timing people or had an online leaderboard or something like that, those people wouldn’t enjoy it, they would start to play and they would realise that they were never going to be good at it and they would just stop.”
People who play social games are very different to those that play traditional video games. They are generally far less interested in getting the highest score possible and instead enjoy the creative nature of the game. Being shown a leaderboard may have an adverse affect on the player and once they realised that they would have to dedicate a significant amount of time and/or money to breaking into the top ten, they may just give up.