And then there were three. I had previously talked about the success of casual game Fish Tycoon being a precursor for the success of Tall Tree Games’ Fish World (currently #11 application on Facebook with 2.0 million daily active users), but two more fish/aquarium sim games have entered into the Top 25 on Facebook. My Aquarium by TwoFishes Interactive (#16 with 1.56 million DAU) and fast riser Happy Aquarium by CrowdStar (#17 with 1.48 million DAU) have both passed by Playfish’s latest game, Country Store.
Happy Aquarium is growing at a much faster pace than the other two, adding over 166,000 users a day over the last week, compared to around 72,000 a day for Fish World and My Fishbowl:
So why the fast growth?Could it be the persistent and somewhat pushy request at each login to continually spam your friends to join you? Well, all three do that – in fact the only difference apparently is the game name (see Fish World and Happy Aquarium at right).
Other “social spam” to brag or entice users’ friends to join in? Where Fish World and My Fishbowl has the “gift request” popular with Mafia Wars and FarmVille, Happy Aquarium only has the ability to give your friends fish food – which is critical to growing your fish – but less vibrant. And there is the standard ability to take pictures of your tank to post to your feed and the prompts at each leveling up to brag about it.
Regardless of the social spam opportunities to push the game, users only will forward it to their friends if they love the game. Ratings for the games nearly match their current growth rates: Happy Aquarium has 4.1 stars out of five, Fish World with 3.6 and My Fishbowl at 3.4. Happy Aquarium is easier to clean, requiring only a click of the mouse, where Fish World requires you to move your mouse back and forth and actually scrub the tank. There also may be some regional biases going on here which I’d have to look at further, as My Fishbowl seems to skew towards users in Asia, just looking at the number of reviews on the site, which means it may not have penetrated the US and European Facebook audiences yet.
Growth is Hard – Flushing the Fish
Fish World’s faster than anticipated growth required it to add more servers and in doing the upgrade had a hardware failure resulting in data loss for several players (THAT’s why my tank is full of dead fish, and NOT that I didn’t feed them yesterday). Coins and “Fish Bucks” were given to those impacted, but judging from the response of users, it looks like not enough to replace what they lost and many are moving on. Will be interesting how many flush Fish World down the proverbial Facebook Application toilet bowl. Lesson to developers – don’t roll out your game without a quick and painless way to upgrade your servers and have a contingency communication plan set up if you run into problems.