Tag Archives: Fish Sim Games

CrowdStar Builds a Crowd: Happy Aquarium Jumps into Top Five

CrowdStar is making a push to join Zynga and Playfish as one of Facebook’s big multi-game developers, with the top fish sim game, Happy Aquarium, passing Farm Town to take the #5 spot in daily active users with 5.47 million. The application saw a nearly 22% increase in traffic to the site over the weekend and is now using the traffic from it’s hit to promote two other new games: Sexy City (a Mafia Wars clone broadly based on Sex in the City) and Restaurant Life (another restaurant sim game albeit with a real-world look and feel).

The toolbar (above) is a fairly new addition for CrowdStar, but has been a strong contributing factor in the growth for publishers like Zynga and Playfish. Happy Aquarium has been doing a god job of retaining users, posting a strong 30% Social Game Sticky Factor™ (monthly active users/daily active users), partially driven through the ability to earn coins by visiting friends’ fish tanks. While visiting your friends, you can clean their fish tank and send a notification to them that their fish are hungry, providing a very contextual message. Also, unlike Fish World, your fish do not appear to die. While this may make for less appointment gaming and thus less need for a user to come back often, it does help retain a user (nothing is more depressing than coming back to a tank full of dead fish).

Sexy City has been around for a couple of months and focuses a great deal on exclusive fashion items to equip your character and move forward in the game. With just over 180,000 daily active users and 1.7 million monthly users, it’s sticky factor is a borderline 11-12%.

Restaurant Life looks like it was launched in mid-September and mines a similar restaurant sim vein as Café World and Restaurant City, but with less cute animation and a bit more real-world look to it. It definitely positions the game a bit more like dating, with random people you can visit (other than you friends) presented like a cell phone. It too has a borderline sticky factor, with 110,000 daily active users and around 1.1 million monthly active users.

While CrowdStar has a winner with Happy Aquarium, the big question is whether it can improve the quality of the supporting games (generic slots and trivia games round out the cross promotion in the toolbar) to become a publishing power house. In the meantime, one wonders whether CrowdStar would be better off renting out the valuable spots in its toolbar to other developers till it can enhance its offering.

UPDATE: It appears both Sexy City and Restaurant Life are not games produced by CrowdStar, but actually games done by other developers: http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2009/11/11/with-hit-social-game-happy-aquarium-crowdstar-steps-into-the-spotlight/

New King of the Fish Tank: Happy Aquarium

On Monday, Happy Aquarium with 2.26 million daily active users (DAU) passed both Fish World (#11) and My Fishbowl (#15) to become the #10 application on Facebook as well as stake its claim as the one to beat in the Fish Sim game genre.

Fish World’s server outage last week (causing it to lose some customer data) definitely killed some of Fish World’s forward momentum: daily growth in DAU was only 2.1% from the 22nd to the 28th of September, growing from 2.0 million to 2.21 million DAU. Happy Aquarium, which was on the cusp of passing My Fishbowl last week, saw an impressive 17% daily growth during the same period, adding over 1 million daily active users in just five days (from 1.22 million to 2.26 million DAU).

Three Fish Sim Games Swim Into Top 25

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.