Yesterday, Conduit Labs announced they were shutting down their experimental music game and community known as Loudcrowd. For two years, Loudcrowd was an electronic hipster haven for fans of outfits like Chromeo, Justice and Van She. Even as they expanded their track offerings to bands like Foals and Yacht, Conduit Labs saw massive growth with their Facebook offerings Music Pets and Super Dance and ultimately decided to abandon the former.

Originally when considering writing this post, I wanted to focus on the functional reasons why Loudcrowd didn’t pan out. When I wrote about the game last May, I pointed to the limited social networking abilities and the niche demographic of electronic fans. Former Director of Marketing Josh Grossman actually stopped by my blog to comment and express that the company shared some of those same feelings.

But now, sitting down to write it, the closing of Loudcrowd is just a sign of the times. There was nothing inherently wrong with the game itself other than it wasn’t hosted on a popular social networking platform. Casual gaming has hit the market full stride and Facebook remains king. According to a recent Mashable survey, 83% of respondents claimed to have played games there. It seems that casual games can’t survive without a powerful portal to back it up.

Not only that, but I think it gives testament to another interesting finding from the Mashable survey (among others). Most online gamers prefer to play with people they know, and not strangers. While Loudcrowd was a place to meet and talk to other fans of the genre, most would rather play a quick round with their BFF on Facebook.

The good news is that Loudcrowd isn’t *really* dead. Conduit Labs’ Facebook game Super Dance runs off the same engine and artistic style. Thanks to a recent distribution deal with UMG, both Super Dance and Music Pets offer a wide range of music that can appeal to all fans. While a lot of Facebook game developers rely on cheap tricks for retention and engagement, Conduit Labs provides a unique product and I wish them continued success.

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