Facebook reveals new growth stats; 20 percent of web users play games every day

This is a crosspost from sister site InsideSocialGames.

gamesToday at the Game Developers Conference, Facebook revealed new statistics, features and a Game Center for developers.

According to Facebook, more than 250 million people are playing games on the social network every month. The company is continuing to showcase itself as a huge asset for mobile developers, too, pointing out that (as of February) 55 percent of the top 400 iOS apps are integrated with Facebook. Likewise, Facebook drove 263 million clicks to the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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Facebook’s new features driving Bingo Blitz’s renewed success

Buffalo Studios’ Bingo Blitz was featured on Facebook’s developer blog today, revealing how the game’s use of new Facebook features has helped the game succeed on the social network, iOS and Android.

According to the blog post, 80 percent of Bingo Blitz’s mobile revenue comes from players who log in via Facebook. Those players who log in with Facebook are also spending three times more and playing twice as much as other players. Finally, ever since Buffalo Studios revamped its Open Graph stories with custom art and content, Bingo Blitz has received 20 percent more Likes and comments on News feed Stories, as well as 500 percent more unique click-throughs to the game itself.

Facebook Subscriptions also provided the game with extra revenue via premium subscriptions (though no figures are provided about this), as well as helping retain players: 85 percent of subscribers are returning daily to collect in-game rewards.

Adopting all of these new Facebook features and providing regular fresh content has apparently kept a quarter of the game’s current monthly active users playing for more than a year. Buffalo Studios vice president of studio 0perations Brooke Olson says a major key to keeping long-term players involved with the game is to integrate Facebook within a title on all platforms it’s available for. By doing this, developers are able to provide “a connected game experience to players who use multiple devices or want to play with friends on different platforms.”

Our own traffic-tracking service AppData shows Bingo Blitz is definitely benefitting from the integration of Facebook’s new features. The game’s traffic started to fall off after it peaked in February with 3.7 million monthly active users and 1.1 million daily active users. Traffic gradually declined until mid-September, when a noticeable turnaround began. Now, the game’s up to 2.7 million MAU and 740,000 DAU.

This article was originally posted at our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Facebook updates platform policies, limits games on third-party sites

Facebook announced a platform policy update for games on third-party websites on Wednesday, limiting the access these titles will have to users’ friends and additional permissions.

Developers will no longer be able to cross-link or promote their web games from within the games they have on Facebook canvas. That said, users will still be able to use Facebook Connect to login to a game and have that game publish back to Facebook. While this doesn’t affect Zynga because of pre-existing contractual agreements, it will affect other developers like Kabam and King.com.

We’re told by sources that the change is due to Facebook re-allocating resources toward canvas and mobile, and games using Facebook Connect haven’t seen the same kind of traffic that titles on Facebook canvas and mobile platforms have.

This might also be related to Facebook’s current payments policy. The company requires canvas games to use Facebook Payments (formerly known as Credits), of which it takes a 30 percent fee. Games off-Facebook do not have to use this payment system, even though they have been able to use all the same APIs as canvas games.

Not only that, but if users are spending time on third-party sites, that’s less exposure they’re getting to Facebook advertising. It would be hard for the company to make a case for continuing to support web games that don’t help it monetize. Although Facebook doesn’t yet make money off of iOS or Android games that integrate Open Graph or Single Sign-On, that area is growing more rapidly than desktop web games and likely needs more internal resources.

Here’s the official wording from new Facebook platform policy that affects developers using Facebook Connect for games:

Special provisions for games:
a. Desktop web games off of Facebook.com may only use Facebook Login (Authentication, excluding user connections such as friend list), Social Plugins and publishing (e.g., Feed Dialog, Stream Publish, or Open Graph). When authenticating, these games may not request additional permissions other than age, email, and our Publishing Permissions (effective December 5, 2012).

b. Games on Facebook.com and mobile must not share the same app ID with desktop web games off of Facebook.com. You must not use Canvas apps to promote or link to game sites off of Facebook, and must not use emails obtained from us to promote or link to desktop web games off of Facebook.com (effective December 5, 2012).

We’ve reached out to a few developers for comment but have yet to hear back or have been told they have no official comment.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Facebook allows U.K. developer to launch real-money gambling app on platform

Online gambling company Gamesys today launches Bingo Friendzy for Facebook, the first casino title to incorporate real-money play on the social network.

Real-money gambling is illegal in the U.S., but if Facebook allows more of these games in other countries, it could be a significant source of payments revenue. Facebook reported $192 million in revenue from games and other payments in the second quarter of 2012, but that was only a 3.6 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

Unlike in the U.S., gambling is a part of the U.K. culture and it’s comparatively easy to operate an online gambling site/app on a global scale. Last month, Christopher Griffin told our sister blog Inside Social Games that his real-money gaming platform Betable is able to operate worldwide because the company’s servers are in the U.K. and the country’s laws allow them to operate anywhere in the world, except in those nations where online gambling is explicitly forbidden.

With Facebook’s age-gating and geo-location technology, Bingo Frenzy and its corresponding News Feed stories will not be visible to users under 18 years old or anyone outside of the U.K.

Real-money gaming is still illegal in the United States because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, although there are exceptions in the states of Nevada and New Jersey. Many in the industry expect the law to be overturned within the next few years. That said, more and more studios are launching social casino apps on Facebook because they tend to have stronger monetization and retention rates than standard arcade titles. Developers like Zynga and Idle Games have recently gone on record  to say they’re positioned to take advantage of real-money gaming when it’s legalized in North America, and it also seems likely that casino groups like IGT Interactive, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are poised to do so as well.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Facebook is a place that allows people to connect and share. Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated activity in the U.K. and we are allowing a partner to offer their games to adult users on the Facebook platform in a safe and controlled manner.”

Gamesys, which also operates the popular Bingo and slots website jackpotjoy in the U.K., requires users to be above the age of 18 years old to play. Bingo Friendzy contains 90 different Bell Bingo and slots games, and The Telegraph reports players need credit cards to play instead of soft/hard currency.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Top 25 Facebook games of June 2012

May proved a slow month for the social game industry, based on our lists for the Top 25 games of June 2012. Both lists saw notable traffic declines, few gains and no new game debuts.

We start with the list of top 25 games by daily active users, which is the best way to evaluate a title’s core audience. Only four games showed gains over last month, the largest belonging to recently-launched Zynga Bingo with 1.8 million DAU. King.com’s Candy Crush Saga continued to climb the charts, gaining 1.4 million DAU (100,000 more than it gained last month). Disney Playdom’s Marvel: Avengers Alliance shows also strong traffic a month after The Avengers hit theaters, gaining 920,000 DAU. Nordeus’s Top Eleven – Be a Football Manager is still making gradual gains, up by 100,000 DAU.

As was the case last month, the two biggest losses belong to Zynga’s CityVille and Hidden Chronicles. CityVille dropped by another 1.4 million DAU, while Hidden Chronicles lost 1.1 million DAU.

Now it’s time to look at monthly active users, which measures a title’s overall reach on Facebook. Zynga’s CityVille lost 6.2 million MAU and its declining traffic caused it to drop to the No. 2 spot on the list. The top spot is now held by Texas HoldEm Poker, which lost 1.7 million MAU. After CityVille, the largest loss belonged to Hidden Chronicles, which dropped 4.3 million MAU.

Only three games on this list saw gains over the past month. The largest increase was with King.com’s Candy Crush Saga, up by 5.2 million MAU. Disney Playdom’s Marvel: Avengers Alliance grew by 3.5 million MAU. Finally, Geewa’s Pool Live Tour was up by 600,000 MAU.

All data in this post comes from our traffic tracking service, AppDataStay tuned next week for the beginning of June’s  Top 25 gainers and losers, when we look at the continued performance of games that appeared on the top 25 DAU list.

This article was originally posted on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Facebook lets users play game demos directly within News Feed

Facebook today announces a new feature that lets users try out games directly within News Feed.

Part of the social network’s continued effort to improve game discovery, the new “feed gaming“ feature lets developers create a short demo of their game that users can play when they see it mentioned in News Feed and Timeline. These samples don’t need players to authorize an app and don’t collect user data, creating a risk-free environment for users to test a game before they commit and give a game access to their personal information. Once the sample is complete, users are prompted to play the full version of the game.

Feed gaming is already being used by King.com’s Bubble Witch Saga, Rovio’s Angry Birds Friends, Tetris Online’s Tetris Battle and Idle Games’s Idle Worship. Bubble Witch Saga offers players a level to play and then rewards them with extra soft currency if they install the game. Angry Birds Friends challenges users to beat a level score posted by a friend. Idle Worship provides a mini-game designed to generate interest in the full game. Tetris Battle, meanwhile, allows users to publish video replays of two-player battles.

Demos are a reliable tactic within other sectors of the game industry, often released before a title’s launch in order to build word-of-mouth hype. Larger games have even had demos come to Facebook, like Majesco’s Cooking Mama Friends’ Cafe, which used Arkadium Stadium to let users directly play the Flash game from their Facebook walls. Users haven’t been able to play samples of Facebook canvas games before now, though.

Developers can test the effectiveness of different game samples, images and copy in their feed stories. Facebook app insights will now show the number of impressions, clicks and clickthrough rate of each feed game story. See more details in Facebook’s documentation here.

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Zynga’s stock recovers as Facebook IPO looms

After starting off the week at an all-time low, Zynga’s stock is beginning to rise again while Facebook’s initial public offering approaches.

The stock closed today at $8.22 a share, down from its opening at $8.75 but still notably higher than where its price was at the beginning of the week. Since Monday, Zynga’s shares have opened above their closing point from the previous day. The stock could be improving as Facebook’s Friday IPO draws near. The social network will likely be valued at over $100 billion with a stock price between $34 and $38 a share.

Facebook recently revealed in an S-1 amendment that Zynga was responsible for 15 percent of its 2011 income. When Facebook’s February S-1 showed 12 percent of its income came from Zynga, the developer’s stock rocketed up to over $14 a share before starting to fall back to previous levels. If the social network’s IPO is as big a success as many believe it will be, Zynga’s stock will likely see an even more dramatic share price increase.

Zynga’s stock still hasn’t taken off like many investors hoped it would when it began trading in December; shares didn’t return to their original price until late January. The stock managed to stay above $10 for February and March, but began a significant slide in mid-April, especially after the company’s Q1 earnings call on April 26. Although the company reported record bookings, it also reported a net loss of $85.4 million and shares dropped from $9.50 to $8.52 the next day. Shares continued to drop over the past two weeks, hitting an all-time low of $7.45 last Friday.

This post originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

Top 25 Facebook games of April 2012

April Fool’s Day has come and gone, meaning it’s safe for us to take a look at the top 25 Facebook games without fear of prank entries.

We start with the top 25 games by daily active users (which is the best way to gauge a title’s core audience), where only seven of the games on this month’s list saw gains. The largest gain belongs to Zynga Slingo at 3.6 million DAU with second place going to Rovio’s Angry Birds at 1.67 million DAU. The former launched in March and the latter in late February, meaning neither game had anywhere to go but up in the early part of their life cycles. King.com’s Bubble Witch Saga, meanwhile, had the third-highest gain of April with 600,000 new DAU, moving up to the No. 6 spot on the list from last month.

The largest losses for the month belonged to CastleVille and CityVille, respectively.

Moving on to monthly active users, which measures a title’s overall reach on Facebook, Zynga’s CityVille saw a repeat performance from last month. Even though the game lost 2.3 million MAU, it had almost 9 million more than the No. 2 game, Texas HoldEm Poker. The largest loss belonged to The Sims Social, which dropped by 2.9 million MAU. This traffic dip is in spite of the recent content expansion that launched on March 21, letting players’ Sims acquire careers.

Almost half the games on this list saw gains in April. The largest gain belongs to Angry Birds, with 16.1 million new MAU. Zynga Slingo wasn’t far behind, gaining 12.3 million MAU. As previously noted, both of these are newer games, so such high gains aren’t too surprising at this point. Bubble Witch Saga and Fruit Ninja Frenzy both tied for the third-highest gains, each earning 2.6 million MAU.

This post originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.

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