Archive for the ‘Facebook’ category

Wait for It…

November 5, 2010

More news coming soon (no, I haven’t died or lost the keys to this place).  We’ve been working hard on a couple of very spiffy things and we’ll be saying a lot more about them  shortly. Sometimes not saying something too soon about what you’re working on is one of the most difficult things about this business.

In the meantime, have a look at this terrific image from an upcoming app of ours, or read this very insightful article by Trip Hawkins, CEO of Digital Chocolate, about using the wealth of publicly available information we have to assess the health of social games and social games companies.

We really do live in a time of unprecedented change in the games industry: faster development cycles, much closer relationship with the customers, much more resilient revenue models, incredible metrics and marketing tools, and — I hope — the ability to create new kinds of games on that foundation.

 

Is Facebook Strangling the Golden Geese?

June 22, 2010

Facebook is in the process of introducing Facebook Credits, its entry into the burgeoning ecommerce/virtual currency area.  Given that Facebook is the prime destination for people playing social games, this is hardly surprising.   However, in so doing, is it in danger of driving away the sources of its fast-rising revenue?   Is Facebook strangling the geese that lay its golden eggs?

(more…)

Dangerous Curves and Social Games 2.0

June 18, 2010

I’ve written here a few times about the business model for social games and why I think this is a very good area to be working in.  I continue to believe this is a large market in its early stages, with more people spending more on virtual goods in the past year, and with  at least one recent study predicting incredible revenue growth over the next few years. We’ve all seen the meteoric rise in this sector in the past couple of years, both at the top end in Zynga, Playdom, and Playfish (now EA), and in the medium-size and long-tail developers.

But recently, some of the shine seems to have come off this area. This is most clearly seen in the dropping MAU and DAU in the top social games — Farmville for example has dropped from a high of about 83M MAU in March to 66M today.   66M is still a number that no one else can touch, but it’s also a huge drop in a game that had been rising steadily.

And it’s not just Farmville.  If you look at the graphs for the top games that have been around for a while, rising continually (e.g., Texas HoldEm, Cafe World, Pet Society), each shows a peak and a subsequent fall-off.   Notably, this isn’t just due to the age of the game: some more recent games like Treasure Isle and Hotel City show the same dangerous curve at around the same time, even though they haven’t been around as long.  Some like Nightclub City show a rising MAU curve — but a daily users curve that has peaked, indicating that the trailing MAU indicator will show this soon too.  Still others, despite strong PR-backed launches in what seemed like good areas, have fared much worse from the start (indicating among other things how critical repeat play is to the success of these games).

So other than the fact that simply putting out a social game isn’t a license to print money, what does this mean? (more…)

The New Social Grind: Begging as Gameplay

June 9, 2010

Zynga recently came out with its latest “social” game, Frontierville.  It features the same cartoony art style and single-player gameplay as their previous games, and reportedly combines elements of others including Farmville in a new skin.

Another thing it does is hone the concept of what I’ve called “ugly viral” — in this case, using begging as gameplay.  Not only does this game make it impossible for you to move forward without others helping you — in a way that involves no social interaction at all —  it’s very up front about this as the poor li’l teary-eyed supplicating pioneer in the illustration (from the FB feed) shows.

So what’s wrong with this?  It’s all in good fun, and it’s cute, right?  Well, maybe.

(more…)

Ugly Viral vs. Pretty Viral

April 16, 2010

Recently I encountered yet another app on Facebook that required me to “become a fan” and install the app before I could even see what it was, much less whether I liked it enough to become a real fan.

Sorry, no.

That’s not viral except in the meanest, ugliest sense.  Like Ebola.  I saw a friend of mine — a trusted source of information — who ostensibly was a fan of this app.  So I clicked on it.  But when I saw the app’s reputation-extortion scheme, I surfed away, and wondered a bit about my friend.

This is only the most recent smarmy way that app developers have tried to extract virality from their users.  There are good ways and not so good ways to do this.  Why do developers persist in using techniques that fall into the doing “every horrible thing” category?  Isn’t there a better way to go about acquiring customers by social means?

(more…)

Better Revenue Forecasting for Social Games

March 29, 2010

One of the great things about social games is that there continues to be a wealth of information available that makes their business case much less uncertain than for other kinds of games.

As one example, Lisa Marino, Chief Revenue Officer at RockYou, gave a presentation at GDC on Monetizing Social Games that’s well worth reviewing.  Lots of good stuff in her slides, and in particular she provides some fascinating data on daily revenue per DAU.  This is a much more precise set of numbers than monthly revenue per MAU.  Measuring per DAU allows for better accounting of the initial fast rise of most successful social games (when DAU can be a very high percentage of MAU), ongoing engagement (how often your players return), churn, long-term drop-off, etc.   (more…)

One More: Integrating Design, Virality, and Monetization

March 25, 2010

In a gracious reference to one of my posts, Aki Jarvinen makes a great point about viral design: it can’t be tacked on at the end of creating the gameplay.  Like monetization (my point earlier), virality has to be integrated in, or else what you end up with is a Frankenstein’s monster kind of game, where the discrete parts do not play well together. (more…)