Then maybe you should be ashamed of launching it way too late

This bunch of legendary figures in the social gaming entrepreneur space seem to be gathered around a kitchen table, but as at least one of them has a PhD in Neuroscience, don’t expect this discussion to be too ‘domestic’.

Women 2.0 and Shirley Lin hosted a panel of four founders & CEOs from social gaming start-ups on April 15th, 2010.

The sold-out crowd listened to startup veterans share best practices, tips, tricks, and even pitfalls of designing and implementing social gaming with a user base experiencing exponential growth.

Rebecca Weeks Watson, VP of Business Development at gWallet, moderated the panel.

Sue Zann Toh, Co-Founder & CFO, told war stories from The Broth’s early days of fixing bugs and keeping servers running.

Barn Buddy, which launched before FarmVille, has grown to 1.7M active daily users amid stiff competition.

Ms. Toh reminded attendees that you can compete with the “big guys” even if your start-up is small by launching early and developing from there.

Mari Baker, President & CEO of PlayFirst, followed up by demonstrating that the players who enter the market first aren’t necessarily the ones that win the end.

“Does anybody remember Netscape or Excite?” she asked a giggling crowd.

One of her tips was to check out the worst performing games for problems to avoid.

Ms. Baker added that having a great product is the biggest key to going viral.

Amy Jo Kim, Co-Founder & CEO, successfully built Shuffle Brain, after years of working on social games for companies like Electronic Arts, Viacom, Yahoo, and LimeLife.

Putting her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience to good use, Shuffle Brain builds games that exercise the brain to prevent dementia.

Shuffle Brain explored a few monetization models but finally settled on merging with a subscription game site aimed at 50 to 70 year-old users.

Nevertheless, she believes earned and purchased currency models are the most promising ways to monetize social games this year.

With “the free to play/virtual goods [model] you monetize your most avid players the most.”

Blake Commagere agreed that dual-currency models have brought the best monetization opportunities to his games.

Blake created some of the most popular social games on FaceBook including Causes, Zombies, and Vampires.

“Ads…paid for your servers and kept you from starving.”

By acclimating users to purchasing in your game using earned currency, the up-sell to purchasing $1 digital goods is easier.

The entire panel agreed that social games require a different work structure than traditional game titles.

Ms. Baker reminded us that in social games you will spend more “man hours after launch than before.”

Ms. Toh agreed that, “the real work starts after launch.” Mr. Commagere added that if “you’re not embarrassed by your product on day one, then you launched too late.”