Does Stealing Make Facebook Fish Games Stickier?

As you might expect with the Thanksgiving holidays, growth in the top fish simulation games appeared to wane as the US portion of the Facebook user base focused on real-life relationships and turkey dinners.

Daily Active User growth slowed for all of the top Fish Sim games over Thanksgiving

Across the board, daily users for each of the fish sim games flat-lined during Thanksgiving — although the reporting tool failed to provide new numbers for Sunday the 29th and Monday the 30th of November, most games were flat or down Thanksgiving week. In addition, for Zynga’s FishVille we’re seeing the social game sticky factor (Daily Active Users/Monthly Active Users) declining. At this point, the game looks like it might settle at a 28-30% sticky factor similar to CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium and Tall Tree Games’s Fish World:

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In this group, 6 WavesMy Fishbowl continues to have the strongest sticky factor, a good 33% higher than other fish sim games with over 1 million Daily Active Users (DAU). I believe its success is primarily due to the fact that it is the only one of the four top fish sim games natively coded in Chinese, which is allowing it to take advantage of Facebook’s rapid growth in Southeast Asia. In addition, it may also have something to do with the fact that My Fishbowl has a strong game element of “stealing” from your neighbors’ tanks (if your friends are late to collect the treasures produced by their fish, you can go in and steal these treasures for yourself).

Stealing is a heightened level of appointment gaming – in addition to a user knowing they have to come back within six or 12 hours to get something from their fish, they need to come shortly within that window to prevent friends from stealing that item. From my experience, this game element seems to be pretty standard fare in casual games coming from Asian developers, yet I’ve seen repeated response on game ratings and message boards that many western users don’t like the fact that they need to steal from their friends to get ahead.

If developers see Facebook growth slow (the most recent jump to 350 million users announced yesterday is at a slower pace than previous growth), there will be more pressure to tap multiple markets. This will require not only translations of game elements, but also the need to truly understand the regional differences in game styles and how best to position those games within Facebook and other regional social platforms.