Social Games May Be Helping Facebook Gain More Users in Asia

Over on Inside Facebook, we’ve taken a closer look at Facebook’s growth in Asia last month — countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan grew by more than 1 million apiece, helping Facebook to grow by 6 million overall in the region. In recent weeks, we’ve also been covering the fast growth of games like Happy Aquarium, My Fishbowl, Happy Farm, and a range of other quality simulations built by Asia-based developers. The largest, Happy Aquarium, has more 12.8 million monthly active users — more than the largest Facebook-using country in Asia, Indonesia, which has 9.71 million.

Games and countries are two different things, of course, but the point is that these games are pacing Facebook’s own growth — or is it the other way around?

Anecdotal evidence from developers, plus the correlation we’re seeing between game and country growth in the region, suggest that games are actually helping Facebook gain new users. As one developer with a large social gaming company recently told us, “many of these users joined Facebook for the games, and don’t even realize that Facebook doesn’t actually own and host the games.”

Of course, Asia-built gaming apps are available all over the world, in many languages, while developers with big games on the platform also offer their games in Chinese and other regional languages. The overlap between games and regional growth is not entirely clear, and certainly more data is needed in order to prove that games are actually causing growth. Still, something to think about — especially for Friendster, which has been historically popular in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, where Facebook is growing fast.

Like Hi5 is already executing on, Friendster is now beginning to talk about plans for more gaming features on the site. Perhaps that will help it gain some of the users who are apparently moving over to Facebook.