Tag Archives: Pet Society

Has Playfish Lost Its Mojo?

Don’t get me wrong: Playfish is the 2nd largest developer in terms of daily active users (DAU) using its Facebook applications. Their two huge hits — Pet Society and Restaurant City – continue to roll along at a steady growth rate. Compare them to the other top applications reaching around 4 million people a day on Facebook for the last couple weeks (August 23 – September 16):

  1. Zynga’s FarmVille (16.4 mil DAU): 303,000 added a day, 3.21% growth rate
  2. Zynga’s Mafia Wars (6.1 mil DAU): 78,000 added a day, 1.81% growth rate
  3. Slashdot’s Farm Town (5.7 mil DAU): 5,000 added a day, 0.10% growth rate
  4. Facebook for Blackberry (5.4 mil DAU): 20,000 added a day, 0.42% growth rate
  5. Playfish’s Pet Society (4.7 mil DAU): 46,000 added a day, 1.25% growth rate
  6. Playfish’s Restaurant City (4.3 mil DAU): 57,000 added a day, 1.93% growth rate
  7. Zynga’s Texas Hold ‘em (4.0 mil DAU): 33,000 added a day, 1.04% growth rate

For a benchmark of the growth rate consider that Facebook announced they reached 300 million active users September 15th, coming about 75 days after announcing hitting 250 million in July. That’s about 666,000 active users added a day or about 0.27% daily growth (or if you think that these applications are appealing only to US users which make up only 30% of the total Facebook population, then that’s about 200,000 active users added per day).

The numbers that stand out in that list above are 1) the phenomenal growth of FarmVille (the only application exceeding 3% growth and exceeding the US active users added per day) and 2) the dismal showing by Farm Town, which appears to have finally succumbed to the weight of FarmVille.

But by and large, the big Playfish titles are right there with the rest of the top seven titles in terms of users added and the growth rate. When I talk about them losing their mojo, I’m talking more about their latest releases: a strategy-focused, turn-based, shoot-your-bazooka-at-evil-spacemen Crazy Planets in July, a farm-sim with Playfish’s tell-tale “Japanese Anime style” called Country Story in August, and the just recently released user-generated-content focused Quiztastic! Each of these games has had a more difficult time duplicating the success of past Playfish hits.

Crazy Planets (early July 2009 launch): Cross marketing got the game to 250,000 DAU early on, peaking at 316,000 DAU on July 16th. It slid down below 200,000 DAU by late August, revitalized a bit hitting 332,000 DAU with the launch of new missions, but is back below 300,000 again this week. Basically it has reached a plateau and isn’t growing (or more likely, not retaining users long enough to keep the numbers growing).

Country Story (early August 2009 launch): Again a solid start and then steady 3.8% growth adding about 15,000 DAU a day. An August 27th launch of new items (although there may have been an ad buy too) helped nearly double DAU from 627K to 1.23 million, but since then growth of the audience continues at a slower pace, about 14,000 DAU per day and for the base, that equates to a somewhat tepid 1.1% growth. At that rate, it would take another 247 days to reach the size of Pet Society. This too could be a retention issue, where users are trying it, but they aren’t sticking with the game long enough (like others in the farm genre) to drive growth.

Quiztastic! was just released a week ago (I had a lot of glitches getting it to load but finally got in). It hit 69,000 daily active users over the weekend, but the numbers are dropping again. Honestly, this game is a reach compared to other Playfish fare: the user-generated quiz has been done to death at this point and Quiztastic just adds some badges and creates a slicker interface. Now turn it into something where a company can create quizzes and easily tie them to the company’s Facebook Fan Page (and give them metrics), hmm.

You have to give Playfish credit for stepping up the game production speed and trying different genres to see if they can define and own a new niche. But as I mentioned in a previous post, the social game business (and the Facebook demographic) seems to be adhering quite closely to the casual game PC download business and there are several cues from that industry that might guide more lucrative game choices for the social platform.

There is nothing to say that Country Story, which has broken into the top 25, can’t be a steady and profitable game for Playfish. It’s just that in light of the phenomenal numbers that FarmVille is achieving, everyone has much higher expectations.