Tag Archives: Gifting

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.

How FarmVille Finally Broke Through 30 Million Daily Active Users

While most games that have been out more than a month or so have been flat or declining (especially the largest of those on Facebook), Zynga’s FarmVille actually eclipsed the 30 million daily active user (DAU) mark earlier this month thanks to a little horse stable.


The horse stable is an combination of the earlier barn-raising promotion (where users posted to their wall and needed 10 FarmVille players to click on it to help you) and the Christmas Tree promotion (where you requested presents from friends to grow your tree to its largest size). In the horse stable promotion, users need to collect multiple items from friends to make the barn:


In the past, requests were used primarily for sending gifts to friends. Here, users are prompted to actually ask their friends to send them gifts. While on FarmVille this is done through wall posts, Zynga has been experimenting using requests instead of wall posts in Mafia Wars. The “Safe House” promo first ran over the holidays and was brought back again for Valentine’s Day.


Flipping the focus from sending gifts to asking for gifts is an innovative response to Facebook’s banning of pre-game gift interstitials (where users logging into the game were prompted to send gifts before playing) back in December. And they work because these requests unlock something in the game, providing a real-game incentive for sending the much-maligned social spam.

Facebook Enforces Most New Policies, Seemingly Lax on Gating Content

Originally Published February 2, 2010

When Facebook began enforcing new policy changes in mid December, it was called a “philosophical approach to platform governance.” As Inside Facebook reported, “instead of trying to spell out all the rules in detail, it is laying out more general principles and reserving the right to make policy enforcements when its policy team deems doing so to be necessary.”

Looking at what has and hasn’t been enforced since the changes were implemented helps provide some intriguing insight into the policy team’s thinking thus far.

Forced Gifting Nearly Eradicated

Just about every game launched prior to the changes in December had gifts (where users send gifts to friends – in most cases to users not already playing the game) first and foremost in their viral marketing strategy – still evident by the number of games where the first menu tab is “Free Gifts” or “Send Gifts.” In reviewing 98 game applications with over 100,000 daily active users (DAU), only about 20% of them did NOT have a gifts component (the largest was Pop Cap’s Bejeweled Blitz with 2.8 million DAU).

The policy:”You must not prompt users to send invitations, requests, generate notifications, or use other Facebook communication channels immediately after a user allows access or returns to your application.”

At the end of January, among games with over 100,000 DAU, only four appear to push users to send a gift to others prior to playing the game: Happy Farm (940,000 DAU), Farkle (840,000 DAU), Garden World (260,000 DAU) and Las Vegas Slots (210,000 DAU). That said, Playdom titles like Sorority Life and Mobsters 2 are pushing the envelope a bit, actually taking users to a gifts screen when you click the Jobs and Missions tabs respectively. So while not necessarily the first thing users see when they come to the application, users still must skip the gifts screen (or send items to their friends) before they can actually engage in the game.


While gifts have often been considered social spam (with some developers specifically not including gifts because they feel they are too spammy), they have become a very powerful way to get users to interact around a game and one can imagine a gifting mechanism that is a more natural extension of the game’s social aspects.

For more details and additional reporting from Eric Eldon who talked directly with the Facebook Application team, see the full post at Inside Social Games