Tag Archives: Electronic Arts

Five Reasons Facebook Games Are Not a Fad

As originally published at Games.com and later highlighted by Silicon Alley Insider.

No one questions whether sharing news or photos with friends and family is a fad, and when people get together to socialize, they often play games – from bridge to charades to Trivial Pursuit. As one of the largest social gathering spots on the web, Facebook is no different and here are five reasons why I don’t think Facebook games are a fad:

  1. Facebook Games are Recommended by Your Friends
    • Your social network is unquestionably the most trusted resource for making decisions – recommendations and word of mouth from trusted friends and family has always been the most influential factor in purchase decisions. In the past, we used to go to Google to search for something. Today, we ask our friends on Facebook and get the recommendations we need to make a decision.
    • Game portals have gone further and further in this direction, initially recommending games to play, then integrating user reviews. But it’s hard to beat a recommendation from someone’s personal network of friends and family, and this is where Facebook excels.
  2. Facebook Games Provide Hours of Play for Free
    • My favorite story is a friend who was at a local game store and overheard a family looking at different console games. The wife said, “No, put that down, I’m just going to play that farm game.” The fact that a game like FarmVille is now seen as an alternative to paying $35-$60 for a console game should strike fear into Electronic Arts (hence their purchase of Playfish).
    • The download game portals realize that demand for a $20 download game is drying up – just this year alone the price has come down from $19.99 to $9.99 when Amazon launched, to as low as $6.99 with some of the other portals. Likewise, how does a subscription model of $5 a month compete with free?
    • There will always be exceptions for really stellar content – I’m going to shell out $20 for great games like Pop Cap’s Plants vs. Zombies – but the days of paying for a knockoff or slight variation of a top game are disappearing.
  3. Facebook Games Don’t Require a Download
    • Why go through the hassle of downloading at all? Facebook games provide a robust game play all within the browser, eliminating one of the major impediments of getting a user to convert – the download process.
    • Flash games don’t require a download, but ultimately they aren’t nearly as engaging. Facebook games are living, breathing entities that are constantly being updated, expanded and made more interesting like a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. Think of Facebook games as the dawn of an MMO without the eight hour download required of your typical MMO.
    • There are still some problems with games being able to run smoothly within the Facebook platform, as I noted in my blog earlier this week. But these are the early days of a new technology and infrastructure will definitely improve. When I was in the download business a little over four years ago, the rule of thumb was that a game that was over 11 MB would never sell because the download would take too long. Two years ago games were reaching the 100 MB level, so bandwidth definitely improved to support more robust download games. The same will happen with Facebook games.
  4. Facebook’s Potential of Reaching Over 350 million Users will Continue to Draw Developers
    • When developing for a single platform gives you the opportunity to reach 350 million people, even capturing 1% of that audience can provide dividends for a developer. It is still relatively easy to enter the market (although there is an increasing need to develop a robust infrastructure and analytics to scale and optimize) which should guarantee further innovation and great games…
  5. Facebook Games Haven’t Even Shown Their Full Potential Yet
    • …and with a bevy of developers being drawn to the space, there should be a great deal more innovation in games. You are already seeing more sophistication in the sim games – the sheer number of feature and item releases for FarmVille each week is staggering. But we haven’t even begun to really leverage the social network (beyond posting social spam to your friends’ walls) and create truly collaborative game play. That is where the next generation of games will cement Facebook games as a truly unique gaming experience.

Quick Hits: PetVille’s Massive Growth, Playfish Still Down Since EA Acquistion

A day after CrowdStar threw down the gauntlet that it was going to be more profitable than Zynga, Zynga pulled out a massive Facebook advertising campaign (see example ad at right) that saw PetVille’s numbers go through the roof, helping it crush rival CrowdStar’s Happy Pets. PetVille climbed from 934,945 daily active users (DAU) to over 3.1 million in a single day, taking over the #14 spot among Facebook applications and quickly surpassing CrowdStar’s Happy Pets (currently #18 with just under 2.6 million DAU). Also not so trivial: After less than a week, PetVille is now only 300,000 behind YoVille — Zynga’s initial sim game– which launched 19 months ago.

Zynga Believes There is Life in Synchronous Games After All?

After my article in InsideSocialGames yesterday suggested that Zynga was focusing its attention on asynchronous games and less time on synchronous games like Scramble and Zynga Poker, today’s FarmVille toolbar actually cross promotes largely synchronous game PathWords (for the first time that I can ever remember) and formerly deposed sim game Roller Coaster Kingdom:

The EA Purchase of Playfish Still Not Showing Growth

We’re a month out since Electronic Arts made a big splash in purchasing Playfish and we noted that traffic was actually down across the top Playfish games shortly after launch. The cross-promotions to EA properties like the Sims3 iPhone application and to the Pogo.com portal have been removed, but traffic through December 7th on the top Playfish games remained 10% or more below their average DAU during the month prior to the acquisition:

Restaurant City Pet Society Country Story
Avg DAU 30 days prior 5,048,849 5,099,902 1,645,520
Dec 7 DAU 4,542,862 4,551,948 1,463,206
% Difference -10.0% -10.7% -11.1%

Interestingly, the Pet Society numbers have been revitalized in the last two days (growing from 4.5 million to it’s pre-acquisition levels with just under 5.1 million DAU), which might be seen as a defensive initiative in reaction to rival Zynga’s massive launch of incredibly similar PetVille. Part of the improvement in DAU may be due to a new daily coin lottery, where users have a chance to win more if they have logged in five straight days, but wondering how long it will take EA to support Playfish with ads to protect itself from inroads by Zynga.

Meanwhile, EA’s Spore Islands never really took off — it never grew over 20,000 DAU, and could never retain users. It’s Sticky Factor is a dismal 5%.

Bejeweled Blitz Flat, Others Target Gem Swapping Masses

While PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz has been solidly at 3 million DAU for over a month now, other gem-swapping games are beginning to find an audience. GameDuell has been targeting Bejeweled players in ads for its Jungle Jewels game (so far only amassing 216,000 DAU and cracking the top 100 with a pretty limited social game experience) while France’s ZSlide has been advertising Treasure Madness (with a slew of gem-swapping mini-games) and gained a little traction (currently in the top 50 with 700,000 DAU). I expect more subtle nuances to the gem-swapping games to continue to percolate in the months ahead, much like they did in the casual games space.

After the Acquisition by EA, Playfish Titles See Traffic Drop

When you get purchased by someone as huge as Electronic Arts (EA), there is definitely a bit of turmoil as everyone tries to understand how the two companies will co-exist and work together. One of the more interesting things we’re seeing is a decline in daily active users (DAU) across the top Playfish titles since the acquisition last week:

Although Pet Society is down only 2.4%, Restaurant City is down 6.8% and Country Story is down 10%. See more detailed analysis in the full-post at InsideSocialGames.com