Tag Archives: Toolbar

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/

Quick Hits: Playfish Offers, Notification Spam, Fast Growth and Country-Themed Items

I’ve been busy looking at some new analytics (new post coming next week) and doing some project work, but came across these tidbits of interest:

Playfish Dips its Toe in the World of Offers: In the last two weeks, Playfish tentatively began offering users the ability to earn coins by completing Offers run by Super Rewards. From a brand perspective, you definitely worry about any negative implications from unsavory offers, and Playfish definitely is trying to protect itself based on this screen coming up before you get to the offers section:

I met with Noah Kagan of Super Rewards competitor Gambit earlier this week and he’s very up front about the challenges around offers. I highly recommend you follow their Gambit blog, as you can’t beat the straight talk regarding the pros and cons about offers – a great example is “F-ck your offers! Game-ending user complaints & 3 developer solutions” that highlights the common customer complaints.

Cross-Application Spamming in Notifications? I noticed when earlier this week that the old Happy Hour application (remember when we used to send rounds of drinks to or Super Poke our friends?) actually cross-promoted game application Enchanted Island. While I’ve noted before the proliferation of Notifications from games crowding out notices from friends, this is the first time I’ve seen one application cross-sell another application via notification. While not specifically prohibited by Facebook’s Notification Guidelines, I think this practice goes a bit beyond the user expectations (rule #2) and would hope most developers will continue to keep cross-selling in their own applications ala the Zynga toolbar.

Zynga Apps Keep Hitting Incredible Numbers: Café World is the big story, passing top restaurant sim competitor Restaurant City (Playfish’s top application in terms of Daily Active Users) in just five days, then passing Mafia Wars to capture the #2 spot in Facebook Applications (with 6.6 million DAU) in just two weeks. As I mentioned last week, the ability to market across the installed base of FarmVille and Mafia Wars via the toolbar (plus some advertising) really helped the application grow quickly.

Could Listening to Users Build Your Audience by 5%: In addition to Café Worlds big gains, FarmVille grew by 1 million DAU in a day on October 14th – growing from 22.01 million DAU to 22.08 million. Beyond meteoric rises during launch, a 5.1% increase on that base is unprecedented and pretty impressive. Hard to pinpoint the actual driver as there has been a slew of new items released: Halloween Items on the 7th, Pink Cow (joining the lost cow, black sheep and ugly duckling) on the 9th, and new country flags on the 13th. Could the three million Facebook users on India have been the driver? Zynga responded pretty quickly to the online protest of Indian players looking to get the India country flag added to the game, creating and adding country flags (which can only be purchased with hard currency) within a week and seem to have been rewarded with more engaged users and likely more sales.

As Facebook becomes more of a global platform, cashing in on country pride should be a standard expansion for Facebook game applications – when I was at PowerSoccer.com, country-themed shoes, headbands and tattoos were some of our biggest virtual item sellers.