Tag Archives: Cafe World

FarmVille Horse Stable Promo Replicated for Other Zynga Hits

How can you tell when a viral marketing program is working well? When Zynga spreads it to several of their top games. Last week we noted that the horse stable promotion helped drive FarmVille over 30 million Daily Active Users soon after it was launched because it promoted its heavy and hard core users to proactively request gifts from friends to complete the building.

Now the same concept has spread to Cafe World and Mafia Wars. In Cafe World, users must collect shelves, jars and lids to create a spice rack:


In Mafia Wars, as part of the revamping of the way properties work in the core New York chapter, users have to collect blocks, car lifts and other material to create the chop shop:


So are they providing the same daily active user punch that the horse stable did for FarmVille? So far they aren’t, but to be fair these just launched late last week and the Facebook-reported DAU numbers have been sporadic of late.

Quick Hits: Getting Users to Sign Up, Gangster City Isn’t Sticky, and 6 Million DAU for Poker?

Here are some quick hits on things I found of interest last week:

Café World’s Progress Bar

One of the more innovative campaigns of the week was a progression bar at the top of Café World, helping walk a user through all the ways to sign up for various communication channels:


The nice part here was the fairly clear user benefit spelled out for each item along the way:

  1. Install the game
  2. Add the bookmark – “Find your way back”
  3. Become a Fan of the Game – “Get exclusive offers”
  4. Sign up for emails from us – “Know when your food is ready”
  5. Allow us to publish directly to your news feed – “Post content faster”

The progress bar was only up for a couple of days so not sure if it either was unsuccessful or ran afoul of Facebook standards. Similarly, one of the scrollable alerts in Mafia Wars presented a similar checklist of things to complete, sans the benefit explanation:


Playfish’s Gangster City Not Retaining Users

Playfish’s latest release, Gangster City, is facing a real uphill battle in retaining users. While Playfish has been promoting the game with ads and seeing consistent growth in bringing in new users (see the MAU trend below from appdata.com), growth in daily users has been pretty flat, pushing the sticky factor down to the teens within the first two weeks.

mafia-wars-ad-2010-0206Granted there have been a great deal of application issues on the platform over the last week, but we’re not seeing the same dips across the board.

One potential culprit could be Zynga advertising. This ad (to the right) touting the new Bangkok expansion for Zynga’s Mafia Wars features art work that looks a great deal like that of the more animated Gangster City than the more realistic approach Mafia Wars has been using to date. Regardless, it doesn’t look like Gangster City is going to help Playfish bust out of their across-the-board decline since the November 4th acquisition by Electronic Arts.

Jumping the Gun on 6 Million

Zynga sent this notification to Texas Hold’em players on Friday night:


Only problem is, they had only hit 5,816,752 DAU (an all-time high) on Facebook on 2/6 according to App data. If Zynga’s internal count shows they did indeed exceed 6 million, then the other 200,000 or so might be coming from the iphone App or MySpace users (which puts the contribution from those channels in perspective).

[Note: I’m tracking milestones on a separate tab on this blog (see here) and welcome any input or corrections.]

Top Social Games Take a Hit: Seasonal Declines or Something Bigger?

zynga-roller-coaster-declineAs originally posted on Inside Social Games

Every year around this time, when I was selling casual download games across the Oberon Media distribution platform, we’d see the numbers of games sold begin to decline: disposable income and leisure time tend to dry up as everyone gears up for Christmas.

And so after months of impressive growth, some of the biggest games on Facebook are reflecting what could be a similar seasonal trend on the social platform – virtually every big game has seen a decline in their Daily Active Users (DAU) since their peaks in December:

Game High DAU Date Dec High DAU Dec 21 DAU % Decline
FarmVille 8-Dec 28,168,448 26,240,616 -7%
Café World 4-Dec 10,714,586 9,079,596 -15%
Happy Aquarium 5-Dec 8,169,204 7,070,370 -13%
FishVille 5-Dec 7,459,387 6,644,904 -11%
Mafia Wars 9-Dec 7,021,764 5,574,330 -21%
Zynga Poker 17-Dec 5,013,652 4,773,945 -5%
Pet Society 9-Dec 5,094,052 4,753,688 -7%
Restaurant City 8-Dec 4,680,805 4,113,377 -12%
Farm Town 10-Dec 5,374,337 4,110,261 -24%
YoVille 8-Dec 3,463,083 2,833,933 -18%
Bejeweled Blitz 11-Dec 3,175,528 2,783,245 -12%
Happy Pets 13-Dec 2,977,222 2,768,133 -7%
My Fishbowl 8-Dec 1,956,719 1,911,330 -2%
Roller Coaster 1-Dec 2,323,788 1,474,539 -37%
Lil Farm Life 16-Dec 1,427,667 1,232,698 -14%

Collectively, these games have fallen 12.0% from their monthly highs, dropping from 97.0 million DAU to 5.3 million on December 21. A Facebook platform issue that impacted all applications for 48 hours starting December 9 might also have pushed users to give up the games and focus on their holiday shopping in earnest. In addition, some of these titles have had extenuating circumstances that might have caused the variances. Mafia Wars retooled their infrastructure and put in anti-hacking measurements massively impacting the game’s DAU. In contrast, Pet Society launched a new lottery feature to drive users to return every day and helped improve DAU.

Yet because the decline is pretty consistent across multiple developers and game types, it’s reasonable to attribute these declines to the seasonal trends I’ve experienced in the casual game download space. Still, could it be a bit more ominous signs of a slowing in Facebook’s growth? Or signs that games are maturing and life cycles are declining as more games enter the market?

Are There Other Factors Beyond Seasonal Trends?

There is no question that social games growth has mirrored the massive increase in Facebook subscribers – Facebook has added over 100 million monthly active users (MAU) in the six months that FarmVille has grown to just short of 75 million MAU. Having a continual influx of new users makes it relatively easy to continue growing the game.


The pace of Facebook monthly active users seems pretty consistent (at least for numbers reported through November). But what is really interesting in the graph above is comparing the relative progressions of each of the most recent Zynga releases.

FarmVille is by far the fastest growing and in general has been able to maintain its growth. The successive titles of Café World, FishVille and PetVille all appear to have smaller initial trajectories and then to plateau at a certain level, each one slightly below the former release.

This is reminiscent of the casual download space, where a developer would release a genre-defining title, like Diner Dash, and then churn out successive titles based on that mechanic. Each one had some initial huge boost in interest and sales, but over time the games held user interest (in terms of spending money to buy the title) for shorter periods of time and typically at a lesser number of units.

It is still early in the social games life cycle and the numbers for these games are still in their early stages and it’s probably too early to say they are on their decline – Café World only Monday released achievements in the game, which based on examples of Mafia Wars and FarmVille helped boost the sticky factors in each game.

If the casual download game space can provide any insight on this trend, it will come the week after Christmas. Once Christmas is passed and users break out new computers or have holiday money to spend, the sales of PC download games usually rebound – and I’d expect the DAU for top games to start their upward swing again.

And if the numbers don’t rebound? We may get some interesting insights into the life cycle of a social game.