Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How to Spot a Hit Social Game Before It's a Hit: Tips For Acquirers

Frequently, I like to check the app leaderboard over at Adonomics, the Facebook analytics service and see what games are poised to become hits.

It's a pretty straightforward process so I thought I share it with you.

First sort the leaderboard by active users rather than the useless default of total installs.

Then go to the 4th page of rankings to view apps that have 50,000 users or less. Smaller apps are where the best acquisition opportunities are.

Look for apps that have double digit active user percentages. For instance Elven Blood has a 47% active users. With total installs of 76,000 and a DAU of 36,000.

Clicking on the name (Elven Blood) reveals the DAU graph for the last 30 days. In this case, the DAU for Elven Blood has doubled in the last week. Clearly, it's got some juice.

So it might be worth acquiring. Looking at the game, it's a clone of Mob Wars reskinned with a medieval fantasy theme. Nothing innovative here, but with Mob Wars being the 5th most popular app on Facebook, its growth prospects are good. As far as I can tell the only comparable games are Zynga's Dragon Wars, and Might of Many, both Mob Wars clone with medieval fantasy reskinning. Neither are as popular.

Looking at the reviews, the users are enthusiastic, not many fake reviews as far as I can tell. There was a torrent of anger over a data loss that brought all the players back to level 1. Sounds like database scaling issues, unsurprising at this rate of growth for an indie team. Not worrying.

Then I'd ask how Elven Blood is acquiring its users, organically, or deviously? Perusing the games, nothing looks devious. No incentizived invites. Nothing spammy. They use a good call to action, " Invite friends who would be most likely to enjoy playing Elven Blood, and remember to invite daily". And it's clear that the incentive for players to invite their friends, so they can advance faster through the game by sharing the spoils of victory is compelling on its own. Good stuff.

On the monetization front, it's running google ads and social media, but more importantly it has a virtual currency tied into a CPA offer program ($uper Reward$), so they are probably making decent cash, probably over $25,000 a month based on current DAU.

Hmm, that means I'd have to offer a pretty impressive figure to bring them in, unless the scaling problem is so bad that they exhausted and desperate (doubtful).

So kids, how much would you offer for Elven Blood based on this analysis? And why, if you're ambition. Let us know in the comments.