Monday, February 25, 2008

GDC 08 Wrap-up: Sessions you might have missed

The following are presented without comment. All are worth your time. And all except one includes slides. Enjoy!

1. GDC08: The Social Gaming Panel from the GDC (liveblogged by Virtual Worlds News)

“99% of the games on Facebook are non-viral, meaning that if you just left them alone, they would not grow next week,” Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga Game Network

Slides from the panel (courtesy of Nabeel Hyatt)

2. GDC08: Virtual Greenspans: Running an MMOG Economy

"For most people, the pleasure is in the journey, not the destination. The same is true for gameplay - we want some benefit from our hard work online, and we want to see it, we want it to be measurable." Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, Economics Professor working for CCP (makers of EVE Online)

3. GDC08: MMO Goal Structures as a Panacea

"One of the biggest lessons we've learned so far from that: you need to actually measure what your users are doing. You don't need to reinvent the wheel to increase your user base -- you can use the systems that already work and do more with them." Erik Bethke, CEO of GoPets.

Read Jeremy Liew's excellent notes here.

Erik Bethke's slides here.

4. GDC08: The Power of Free to Play

“I think even the walled gardens will begin to see an impetus to break the subscription barrier down and get more players in there,” said Crook. WoW is letting users get access to characters on the Web, already making it more available." Adrian Crook (Game Designer and Blogger,

Adrian's slides here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

As Promised: The Demographic Breakdown of the Top Three Game Developers on Facebook

Note 1: I spoke with Shervin Pishevar, CEO of SGN a few hours ago and he confirmed the numbers for SGN were correct.

Mark Pincus also contacted me to let me know that Zynga had 1.4 million daily active users. One million from the games on Zynga, and an additional 400,000 from the CLZ acquisition. The apps from the CLZ aren't games, so I don't count them, but 1 million DAU seems to put Zynga well ahead of other game developers in terms of reach.

Note 2: My demographic information does not include the 13-17 range. I suspect Developer Analytics can't collect it due to Facebook's privacy policy. Sorry about that, I recognize it's a very interesting demographic, especially for people moving onto the Myspace platform.

Note 3: Regarding overlapping users. According to Developer Analytics, none of these games have more than 20% overlapping users (even within their own network) with the exception of Vampires and Zombies (38% overlap) and Attack! and Triumph (also weirdly 38%). I find this very interesting and surprising, I expected a lot more overlap. I should probably look at the overlap question in a future post.

The Takeaway:

SGN games attract an overwhelmingly male audience. They tend to skew slightly younger as well, with the exception of Pirates which is only ~5% of their total audience. I believe this is due to their content: fighting (Fight Club), medieval strategy (WarBook), and car racing (StreetRace) are all genres that historically have skewed male. Jetman, well...I'll let someone else figure out Jetman.

Zynga also attracts many more men then women, with the exception of Scramble which is the only game among the top three developers dominated by women(63%). I think Zynga's male leaning can also be attributed to content, strategy games skew male. However, card games as a category tends to be more gender-balanced, though not necessarily when it comes to gambling type games like Poker and Blackjack. The age of Zynga players is spread more evenly among the three age segments, but with ~50% in the 22-25 age bracket.

Blake Commagere's Monsters games also have ~50% of their users in the 22-25 age bracket. They also have a fairly even male-female ratio. The outlier being Slayers with an only 23% female audience. I believe Slayers was the last Monsters app to be release with a tagline about slaying those annoying monsters. For the female audience, slaying isn't as fun as infecting? Somehow I think it comes down to the simple fact that infection is primarily a social activity, but slaying is a perceived as a violent activity. If anyone has thoughts on this please leave them in the comments.

Points to ponder:

  • Word games appear to have the highest percentage of DAU: Zynga's Scramble (15%) and the Agarwalla's Scrabulous (24%). Both have large female audiences compared to other games. So are women overall more active gamers then men? I have some data gathered from the casual games and virtual worlds industries that answers that question, but it'll have to wait for a future post.
  • Why are half of nearly all players of the games listed here in the 22-25 age bracket? Is that Facebook's largest demographic as well? Or is it due to factors that affect most 22-25 Facebookers, e.g. killing boredom at their first real job.

Again, special thanks to the guys over at Developer Analytics for making such a kick-ass product.

I just relaunched this blog to focus exclusively on social gaming. Before this week, however, I was also writing about entrepreneurship in general. Since you're probably looking to avoid advice on how to be more productive, etc., I've compiled a short list of social gaming related posts (and virtual worlds because there are some interesting overlaps).

So the greatest hits so far:

Puzzle Pirates v. Club Penguin

A Review of Kaneva, a virtual world

Ebays stops trading of virtual goods - Trespasser in the Walled Garden

Game Geek - I Like it Long and Hard, so Kill Me.

Starbucks Survey: Ever Heard of Second Life?

Scrabulous is Back!

In case you didn't notice.

Top Ten Games on Facebook with Detailed Demographics

Note: DAU = Daily Active Users (which is the metric this list is based on)

Brief Analysis:
Despite all the recent posturings by Zynga and SGN, neither companies has more than one game in the top ten. That honor goes to Blake Commagere.

Most games, with one exception, have a significantly higher ratio of male players. Does this mean men play more games? Answer: No. It means that no one is making games that appeal to female players - I'll post on that in the future.

Interesting bits:

  • Jetman has virtually no users over 26.
  • Scrabulous (and Vampires!!!) has an equal male-female ratio.
Come back tomorrow, I'll be posting the demographic breakdown of all the top games from Zynga and SGN.

Special thanks to for providing the demographic info!