Tag Archives: Playfish

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:

cafe-world-2010-0204-signup

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:

mafia-wars-counter-signup

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.
gangster-city-2010-0206dau

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:

texas-holdem-poker-6-million-notify

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.]

Early Winners and Losers from Facebook Platform Changes

When Facebook implemented a flurry of platform changes that curtailed some viral marketing tactics in early December, developers scrambled to revive tactics and there was the thought that this might level the playing field a bit, taking some wind out of the sails of the most aggressive viral marketers.

To get some initial feel for the impact of these platform changes (and provide a benchmark for the industry), we looked at Daily Active Users (DAU), Monthly Active Users (MAU) and the resulting Sticky Factors (DAU/MAU) for top developers on December 7, 2009 (just prior to platform changes going into effect) and January 5, 2010. This assumes that the impact of the holidays (across the board dips around Christmas and New Year’s Day) was similar across all of these titles and also comes with the caveat that developer level numbers are not necessarily unique users (a user may play multiple games by that developer).

Developer MAU 12/7 MAU 1/5 % Diff DAU 12/7 DAU 12/5 % Diff Sticky 12/7 Sticky 1/5 % Diff
Zynga 219.5 mil 231.3 mil 5.4% 64.1 mil 62.4 mil -2.6% 29% 27% -7.6%
Playfish 59.5 mil 55.8 mil -6.2% 11.7 mil 9.5 mil -19% 20% 17% -13%
CrowdStar 38.3 mil 48.3 mil 26.2% 10.8 mil 11.0 mil 2.2% 28% 23% -19%
Playdom 22.7 mil 20.8 mil -8.3% 3.2 mil 3.3 mil 1.6% 14% 16% 10.7%
6 waves 38.7 mil 33.9 mil -13% 7.8 mil 6.7 mil -15% 20% 20% -2.4%
Slashkey 18.4 mil 16.3 mil -12% 5.1 mil 3.7 mil -28% 28% 23% -18%
PopCap 10.4 mil 10.1 mil -2.6% 3.1 mil 2.9 mil -7.8% 30% 29% -5.3%
TOTAL 407.5 mil 416.4 mil 2.2% 105.8 mil 99.4 mil -6.0% 26% 24% -8.0%

This initial cut makes it appear that some of the biggest developers (Zynga, CrowdStar and Playdom) have done reasonably well, but each of these developers actually launched a significant new game during the period. Because new games typically haven’t reached a steady state (which inflates the sticky factor) and because we’re more interested in the impact on games existing prior to the platform changes, let’s look at the numbers without Zynga’s PetVille, Playfish’s Poker Rivals, CrowdStar’s Happy Island and Playdom’s Tiki Farm:

Developer MAU 12/7 MAU 1/5 % Diff DAU 12/7 DAU 12/5 % Diff Sticky 12/7 Sticky 1/5 % Diff
Zynga 218.5 mil 212.4 mil -2.8% 64.1 mil 58.4 mil -8.9% 29% 27% -6.3%
Playfish 59.1 mil 54.3 mil -8.1% 11.6 mil 9.4 mil -19% 20% 17% -12%
CrowdStar 38.3 mil 42.0 mil 9.6% 10.8 mil 9.2 mil -14% 28% 22% -22%
Playdom 22.7 mil 18.7 mil -17% 3.2 mil 2.7 mil -18% 14% 14% -0.7%
6 waves 38.7 mil 33.9 mil -12% 7.8 mil 6.7 mil -14% 20% 20% -2.4%
Slashkey 18.4 mil 16.3 mil -12% 5.1 mil 3.7 mil -28% 28% 23% -18%
PopCap 10.4 mil 10.1 mil -2.6% 3.1 mil 2.9 mil -7.8% 30% 29% -5.3%
TOTAL 406.2 mil 387.7 mil -4.6% 105.7 mil 92.8 mil -12% 26% 24% -8.0%

The total line is not for all developers on the Facebook platform, just the seven aggregated above, so there is some bias in the aggregated numbers because Zynga makes up over half of the total MAU and DAU numbers. But given this caveat, the total line suggests that so far, these developers are seeing on average a 4.6% decline in MAU and a 12.2% decline DAU which has reduced the sticky factor by 8%. I believe MAU numbers will continue to decline a bit more before they stabilize a bit.

See the full breakdown of the winners and losers including commentary on each developer at InsideSocialGames.com

Developers Revamp Viral Marketing Tactics to Comply with Changes to Facebook Policies

As originally posted on InsideSocialGames.com

While we recently attributed some of the across-the-board declines in daily active user numbers for Facebook games to seasonality, it’s becoming clearer that recent policy changes by Facebook may be contributing to these declines as well, forcing developers to completely revamp their viral activities. Here are three viral practices that have been reined in and examples of how developers are attempting to cope with the changes.

Pre-Game Gifting Interstitial Screens are Gone

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.”

How developers are coping: This was viral-marketing 101 for nearly every Facebook game: every time you went to the application, you first had to go through a “gifting” screen before you could actually play the game. Only Playfish refrained from this practice in the past. Now that it’s been taken out of the arsenal, developers like Zynga and CrowdStar are trying different ways of getting users to get back in the gifting habit. Most games have opted to add an icon on top of the game play area, specifically prompting users to send gifts, like in CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium and Zynga’s Roller Coaster Kingdom:

Zynga’s PetVille has incorporated the gift icon into the basic navigation on the screen, with little balloons that highlight an action they want users to take:

Zynga’s Mafia Wars is more aggressively integrating prompts and banners into the page:

And still, some games still have the gift interstitial, but they are generally smaller games, like Hive7’s Youtopia, which Facebook might not have gotten to yet:

Pop-Ups to Prompt Users to Share Achievements…Revamped

The policy: “You must not display a Feed form unless a user has explicitly indicated an intention to share that content, by clicking a button or checking a box that clearly explains their content will be shared.”

How developers are coping: Instead of the standard Facebook news feed form windows popping up, each game is experimenting with different in-game prompts that users need to activate to show their intent to publish to their wall. PetVille prompts users by having a new icon show up in the bottom right, with a balloon prompting users to share:

Playfish’s Pet Society has a somewhat confusing choice between a sharing icon and a green check mark icon (used to close the in-game pop-up and NOT share), whereas Farm Town by SlashKey prompts with a simple binary choice of either sharing (green check icon) or not (red X icon):

CrowdStar’s Happy Pets uses the check-box approach – although the prompt is by default pre-checked to share so the user must un-check it before clicking on the green check mark icon:

Gating Content Based on Number of Friends…Not Enforced?

The policy: “You must not provide users with rewards or gate content from users based on their number of friends who use your application.”

How developers are coping: This common developer practice often prompted users to request perfect strangers to “Add Me” so that they could unlock levels or items in the game without having to pay for them, thus running amok of Facebook’s intent to keep your social graph strictly to your direct friends (we recently offered up an alternative). In response to the policy being enforced, Treasure Madness by zSlide no longer requires you to have a number of friends to dig under certain heavy rocks. Instead, they now make users pay for “contractors” at 150 in-game gold pieces per contractor. So a rock that would have required 10 friends to lift, now requires 1500 gold pieces:

Yet it’s still a question as to how intense Facebook plans to enforce this policy. For example, Zynga’s Roller Coaster Kingdom still appears to be gating items based on the number of friends, gating the options for booking guests, upgrading park attractions and for expanding the amusement park area:

We fully expect these policy changes to have an impact on growth and retention rates as developers adjust their viral marketing tactics to comply. But with the seasonal impact of people getting away from their computers to celebrate the holidays, plus developers quickly reacting and optimizing new tactics, it may take several weeks to fully understand just how severe the impact of these changes will be on growth and retention rates.