Monday, June 9, 2008

Playfish Dominates the Social Gaming Top Ten

Today, I'm introducing The Social Gaming Chart, a biweekly compilation of the top ten games on the social networks. For now, I'm only covering games on Facebook. Once we see significant traction and easily available metrics for the other socnets, I'll start including them.

The Social Gaming Chart
Note: data was compiled on Thursday, June 5, 2008.

My Take

The social games space is growing.
Since I compiled the first social gaming chart just over three months ago, the amount of daily active users of the top ten Facebook games has increased from 2,740,002 to 4,628,872. That's an increase of 69% in three months.

The social games space is changing rapidly. Only three games that were in the top ten three months ago remain: Scrabulous, Texas Holdem Poker, and Speed Racing. All three have fallen in rank, but only Scrabulous lost users. Texas Holdem Poker and Speed Racing gained users. Meanwhile, new companies and game types have replaced and surpassed the old crowd.

The company to watch.
Playfish is proving that a company can consistently crank out hit social games. So far, they've released three games (Who's Got the Biggest Brain, Word Challenge, and Bowling Buddies) and each game has reached the top ten. Without cross-promotion!

They've discovered a winning formula: integrate a friends-oriented leaderboard into well-designed single-player flash game based on a proven casual game concept. However, as I suggested in a previous post, I think that games based on this formula will have a shorter shelf-life than games that have direct interaction with your friends(such as Scrabulous and Texas Holdem). Simple single-player games tend to get boring quick. Having said that, people play solitaire for their entire lives, so who knows. But then again, you don't play solitaire with friends.

Regardless, I think Playfish will continue to be successful, pumping out a string of hit games based on this formula. No other company is consistently creating polished, high-quality, flash games for the Facebook audience. I'm interested to see when they'll start releasing multiplayer games, which have more difficult technical requirements. But I doubt they're in any rush.