While FarmVille is still without question the number one Facebook game, consisting of a strong 78 million active users, over 4 million farmers left FarmVille last month. It is important to mention that at least 18 out of the top 25 Facebook games also experienced significant decline in users. So why is it that most games are losing active users? Are farmers leaving the farm for treasure hunting and island adventures?
While many people are adopting the virtual life in Treasure Isle, the fastest growing game of 2010, it is unlikely to contribute to the entire loss. Many farmers can enjoy farm life and simultaneously search for treasure due to the nature of Treasure Isle’s energy requirements. While providing a nice distraction when waiting for your crops to grow, unlike FarmVille, Treasure Isle and games like Mafia Wars are not always available for play since they are dependent on energy packs. So what is causing the decline in most of Facebook’s top 25 social games?
Part of the explanation could be Facebook’s regulation of developers, thus affecting gaming applications like FarmVille. For one, Facebook removed third party notifications which limits social gamers’ communication abilities. Many disgruntled farmers were upset over the changes made to gifting, the new collapsible styled newsfeed shares, and email notification requirements. Another factor contributing to the decline in users could be the unreliable Facebook instability as a platform in general. Many users do not understand this and instead place the blame on developers for issues they have no control over.
While Facebook provides the platform for social gaming interaction, the contributions of social games is unprecedented. Games such as FarmVille encourage routine visits and consistent logins to Facebook. Some people are using Facebook as a sole avenue for gaming, registering for accounts just to play games like FarmVille, Bejeweled Blitz, and Zynga’s newest child Treasure Isle. As the relationship between Facebook and developers like Zynga remain unclear, Zynga continues to add new games.
Facebook and developers need to get along and work out solutions appealing to everyone. Facebook should appreciate the growth and the revenue that Social Gaming has provided them with. As mentioned by Inside Social Gaming, it is their opinion that,
” Facebook and the industry need to see organic growth of some form if the industry is going to survive. Despite what some developers might say, the company does want social gaming to continue to exist. Among other reasons these games bring users back to the site, and make it more generally interesting and meaningful; they also present a new opportunity for Facebook to monetize, via the company’s budding Credits virtual currency product.” (Source: Inside Social Gaming)
MTV asked Zynga C.E.O Mark Pincus about his thoughts on the loss of active players and he suggested “this drop in numbers is only for the short term as FarmVille wasn’t the only game from the company to lose some followers.” (Source: MTV Mutliplayer)
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