Aquarium Games Fishing for Traffic in International Waters

Aquarium simulation games are another old hat genre for the Facebook game platform, much like the restaurant simulation genre we examined earlier this week. Even with its “been there, done that” status, however, developers seem to be finding traffic for new aquarium games in the international market.

Aquarium games are like pet simulations, but confined to the pet type of fish. Players are usually tasked with attracting fish to a virtual space by using food, cleaning up debris generated in the space, and by decorating the space to make it more alluring to different types of fish. This type of game lends itself to the asynchronous Facebook audience as it doesn’t require quite as much time-management as a farm or restaurant simulation and the ambiance of a virtual aquarium is more soothing, much like the classic screen savers from Microsoft Windows.

Games By Genre: Fish (Aquarium)

Name MAU
1. Happy Aquarium5,786,283
2. 開心水族箱3,664,519
3. FishVille2,604,989
4. Fish World777,397
5.Akvaryum508,999
6. My Fishbowl256,821
7. Ocean Party197,735
8. 開心魚塘182,728
9. Mi Pecera169,575
10. Fish Isle84,399

Top Tier: Declining Everywhere But China

The largest aquarium games by monthly active users — CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium, Happy Elements Ltd’s Chinese language version of My Fishbowl, Zynga’s FishVille, and TallTree Games’ Fish World — all have long histories on Facbeook dating back to fall and winter of 2009. These games found success throughout the first half of 2010, in the days when the Facebook games platform still offered extensive viral channels through which games could attract new users. As an example, Happy Aquarium and FishVille at one point each boasted more than 25 million MAU and 7 million daily active users during their first three months in contrast to their present-day levels.

After the first three months of growth, each of our top tier aquarium games slowed in growth, creating a gradual downward slope. The beginnings of these slopes happen to coincide with the period of time in which Facebook clamped down on viral channels available to developers — spring 2010. While one could argue that the loss of growth in our aquarium games could be connected to the loss of the viral channels, we’re can’t necessarily reach that conclusion as the downward slopes remained gradual throughout spring and summer of 2010 as opposed to showing a sharp drop-off. Moreover, most social games in any genre see growth in three to four months followed by a period of decline as players simply run out of things to do in-game and move on to other titles. Even so, it’s not hard to imagine that once the viral channels were restricted, each developer faced an uphill battle to bring growth back to the games.

The exception here is the Chinese language version of My Fishbowl, which appears to be on a long-term upward trend begun in early April of this year, up 33% in MAU over the last two months. The reasons for this trend are not immediately clear; other international versions of My Fishbowl aren’t performing nearly as well.

Mid Tier: Declining Everywhere but MENA

In the mid tier of aquarium games, we see the original My Fishbowl still stuck in a decline slope, but we also see a notable newcomer. Akvaryum is a Turkish-language aquarium sim from Peak Games, a developer that’s seen success in the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) region where other developers tend to struggle. The game launched only in the last two weeks and is already number five out of all fish games with over 500,000 MAU and 100,000 DAU.

Also in this tier is Gaia Online’s Ocean Party, an older aquarium game with an interesting history. It was the developer’s first Facebook game built off of a similar activity in its successful virtual world, Gaia Online. Based on its experiences with Ocean Party, Gaia Online went on to create monster collection and combat game, Monster Galaxy, which is shaping up to be a Facebook success story. Ocean Party hadn’t seen much activity in the last nine months, but a small spike in MAU and DAU in early June hints at signs of life in the otherwise dead-in-the-water game.

Lower Tier: Small Fish in Big Ponds

At the bottom of our aquarium spectrum are more language variations of My Fishbowl, several decaying clones of Happy Aquarium, and a slew of games that don’t exactly fit the aquarium genre. The two that make our top 10 — 開心魚塘 (Happy Fish Ponds) and Fish Isle — do actually fit the genre, but like their siblings in tiers one and two, they haven’t seen significant growth of late.

Conclusions

While the Chinese language version of My Fishbowl and Akvaryum’s sudden popularity suggest that there is still an audience for the aquarium genre in the international market, most of these games tell a sad story for aquariums on Facebook. We don’t think it’s going to completely discourage developers from attempting new aquarium games, however. Already we see mobile developer Jirbo actively try to port its successful iOS aquarium sim, Tap Reef, to Facebook; and other developers like HitGrab are seeing success with variations on the “collect fish” theme of aquarium games as applied to the actual sport of fishing in games like FishHunt.

All data in this analysis was compiled with our social game traffic tracking service, AppData. If you believe a game has been left off this list in error, please reach out to us in the comments.