TinierCafe is a restaurant sim for Facebook from casual and social game developer GCREST, a subsidiary of CyberAgent, which maintains a Flash-based virtual world called TinierMe on its own site. Using cross-promotion and interconnected gameplay between TinierCafe and TinierMe, the developer has gotten TinierCafe a healthy start after its late May launch, landing it on our top 20 emerging Facebook games list as of last week and already placing it in the top 10 restaurant Facebook games by traffic.
TinierCafe comes in eighth among restaurant sim games as tracked by AppData, just behind Cupcake Corner and Cooking Mama in both MAU and DAU. The game debuted with a cross-promotion to TinierMe players on the game’s website, which attracted a large influx of initial players. Additionally, the game allows TinierMe.com players to import their character and their existing virtual currency balance to the game for a smooth platform transition between games. All of these factors contributed to the game’s initial traffic growth, however Masaru Ohnogi, CEO of GCREST America, tells us that marketing and viral growth have shifted the current player base to roughly half TinierMe cross-over players and half brand new players. The balance is still shifting even now as TinierCafe continues to grow.
In terms of gameplay, TinierCafe is similar to other restaurant games where players control a chef avatar responsible for cooking dishes to serve to customers to make said customers happy. The core gameplay loop involves selecting a dish from a cookbook, clicking on a stove object several times to prepare the dish, then waiting for the dish to be done. Once finished, the player must click on the completed item to “serve” it, which prompts a non-playable waiter character to bring servings of the completed item to any customers that walk in and sit down. A customer that successfully receives a dish pays the player a standard currency, Pecos, and adds to the overall star score of the restaurant. A customer that isn’t served anything within a certain amount of time leaves without paying and decreases the overall star score. The game keeps a running tally of how much a player’s restaurant earns while they are not in the game; although, players can close a restaurant at any time by clicking a button.
A key viral feature in TinierCafe is the friend invite system, which feeds into a gameplay mechanic that allows players to open more restaurants in other cities. Each restaurant features both a standard menu with items a person might order in real life if they lived in Japan (e.g. udon soup, hamburger steak, beef and rice bowl, etc.), while the regional menu items cater to a city’s “specialty” dish, like clam chowder in a bread bowl for San Francisco or escargot for Paris. Players “hire” friends to work as waiters within their first restaurant and can also hire friends to be the chefs in other regional restaurants. The more restaurants a player can keep running at once, the more Pecos the player earns.
Monetization presents TinierCafe with a challenge. Ohnogi explains that currently, players with a TinierMe account maintain a consistent premium currency balance across all Tinier brand games, including the Facebook version of TinierMe. At present, the game isn’t integrated with Facebook Credits integration and only allows the purchase of Tinier’s premium currency, G-Coins, with PayPal, credit card, or Rixty. Players can also acquire G-Coins via offer walls powered by SuperRewards. The G-Coins make up the primary revenue stream across all Tinier brand products as player spend the coins on premium decoration items or on mini-games like gatcha (capsule machines). Ohnogi says there’s still plenty of time to work out Facebook Credits integration without sacrificing the cross-game G-Coin balance.
As for future features in TinierCafe, Ohnogi would only say more content is planned. He says GCREST is committed to a strategy of “one character, multiple games,” as TinierMe users tend to be very attached to their individual characters.
“Because it’s so cute,” Ohnogi says, “they want to use their characters in many games.” If TinierCafe continues its growth in the coming months, we’ll start looking for more games on Facebook to which we can migrate our TinierMe characters.