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Gaming The New Era Of Facebook

February 9, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Meanwhile, three-year-old Casual Collective, too, is taking aim at the more traditional gamer "instead of going after the same piece of the pie that others are after," says CEO Will Harbin. "I mean, there are so many FarmVille rip-offs -- or, at least, games with similar mechanics -- that we decided to take a more traditional approach to game development on Facebook. We're going after the user who CityVille really doesn't appeal to."

Harbin believes his core audience is the traditional hardcore gamer -- about 80 percent male and, of those, 60 to 70 percent in the 20 to 40-year-old age range. In order to cater to that demographic, his team has repositioned its most popular game, Backyard Monsters, in the past few months, "making the monsters more cool-looking and less fluffy and cute, adding a bit more violence, and so on," he says. "The result has been higher user numbers for the audience we're after." He says he'll keep that in mind as new games are released.

Casual Collective has two games on Facebook -- Desktop Defender and Backyard Monsters -- with its third, Battle Pirates, currently in alpha but poised to launch a public beta later this month.

"We're loading Battle Pirates up with cool-looking fleets of ships, missile launchers, rockets, guns, ripper cannons, things like that," he reveals.

While Harbin, too, chose not to reveal actual dollar figures, he says he is very pleased with how Backyard Monsters is doing. "It's probably making more [average revenue per user] than CityVille but less than Kingdoms of Camelot.

"What I can say is that it's been meeting all of our growth targets; we're close to about 900,000 daily active users. I expect that it will peak at around 2.5 million in another few months as long as everything continues to go as planned. In addition, we have close to a 30 percent ratio of DAU to MAU; I don't know of any game at that scale that has anywhere close to that engagement."

The bottom line, says Harbin, is that a developer doesn't have to be in the top five or even the top 10 to be a success on Facebook.

"Because Facebook is huge -- with at least 700 million registered users -- you can build a very successful company with just a few million monthly active users," he explains. "You don't have to be a Zynga, even though I'm sure everyone wants to be the one to knock them out of the pole position. There's a lot of open space for developers to capture the more traditional gamers -- users who are used to playing Xbox 360 or PS3 but now want to have a similar experience in a mobile, more accessible environment."

Backyard Monsters

Fuzbi's Edery shares very similar advice with developers anxious to succeed on Facebook but who are finding it's not as easy anymore to get the attention of users.

"Not only have Facebook's viral channels been crippled, but you are competing against big venture-funded companies, as well as publishers, that are spending millions upon millions on advertising to suck up the eyeballs," he says.

"What I recommend is focusing on an under-served niche," he explains. "If no one else, for example, has a great submarine game, that's what you need to make. Then go to all the submarine fan sites and announce that you've got a great new game and to come check it out. That's a much easier path than trying to build the next CityVille that will appeal to 100 million users.

"Hey, if you think you can create the next mega-hit, knock yourself out!" he says. "But just understand that you're competing with big companies with lots of money to spend. Just recognize that you're picking a big fight!"

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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Brice Morrison
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Really great article; it's always encouraging to hear about little guys who are making it.

Joel S
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Michael Kolb
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Eric Ippolito
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+2 (for the effect)

Carlo Delallana
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It's also surprising to see how browser-based gaming could potentially grow more if you were able to play on a mobile device. Apple platforms aside tablets are set to overtake traditional desktop and notebook usage, the game follows the user everywhere they go.

E Zachary Knight
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As someone working on his first Facebook game, I am very encouraged by this article. I never planned on making Millions or becoming the new Zynga, but it is nice to know that there are developers making 200+ thousand a year on their games.

Tadhg Kelly
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Notifications actually came recently, in the form of notification-requests. CityVille makes heavy use of them for example.

Aside from that picky point, great article.

E Zachary Knight
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I think they are referring to the old notification bar that was in the bottom right corner where games could send quick messages out to allies and people who are not playing the game.

While the system still has plenty of opportunity to send notices, but not in the same ways as before.

Samuel Green
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Brilliant stuff. I played Backyard Monsters quite a lot back in the day, really was a pretty good game. Can't wait to see the next era of games from these companies, although I'm not really a fan of the Kingdoms of Camelot/Verdonia style game.

Tont Voles
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Kinda sad to see another FB gaming feature that's heavy on the MAU/DAUs and typically light on the ARPUs.

Joao Eira
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"In other words, he says, if a game is ranked #163 on Xbox Live, for example, "you are hosed. It means that maybe five people a day are playing you. Same with PSN. But, on Facebook, #163 might have a daily average user level (DAU) of 50,000, which means you have a good chance of making money. That's an astonishing statistic."

I understand how a game ranked #163 might have way more daily players on Facebook than on Xbox Live if it was in the same rank, but being ranked for example 59# on Xbox doesn't necessarly translate into being ranked #59 on Facebook, if even close to that.

And I have a question that isn't answered in this article which I thought would be the point of this article. How does one make money with Facebook? Where does the income come from? E-currency? I haven't seen anything that could answer me that question.

Eduard Pandele
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@Tont: Nobody discloses the actual ARPU; it's not in their interest to do so. Despite optimistic articles like
no-bubble/ , I can hardly believe Zynga is approaching EA in terms of income, and about Playdom being worth the 700 millions Disney paid for them ? Hmmm.

@Joao: All Facebook games that matter have a working in-game economy based on accumulation (of properties, in CityVille, of football players, in FIFA Superstars etc) and on retention (come back for more of the same). A small percentage of players want to improve faster and get more (have a bigger city, more advanced buildings, have a better football team) and also have the money to pay for this. This minority of players that actually pay real money for in-game currency are what keeps all Facebook games afloat.

Douglas Gregory
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Expanding on your reply to Joao, some Facebook games also derive revenue from advertisements, or by directing players to partner offers (although as I understand it, these forms of revenue are in decline, particularly the latter).

digitalnomad RealmOfEmpires
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"But the majority of Facebook developers don't understand the opportunities available to them by narrowly targeting their games, Edery says."

Absolutely, targeting a niche market, may not give you the hyped numbers of DAU/MAU as farmville boasts of ..but real time strategy games as Realm of Empires on facebook, does have hard core players forming a core group since the last 3 years. Facebook does provide a platform to small-to-midsized social game developers.