French video game developer and publisher Ubisoft hasn’t always had it easy with the Facebook platform, but it’s newly-released The Smurfs & Co. paints a rosy picture of the company’s social game strategy going forward.
According to our traffic tracking service, AppData, The Smurfs & Co. currently has 4,160,184 monthly active users and 1,181,223 daily active users.
Despite the “& Co.” name, Ubisoft’s Smurfs has less in common with its Castle & Co. title than it does with 6waves Lolapps’ Ravenwood Fair. According to Ubisoft, the name was chosen simply because the same team crafted both games. In The Smurfs & Co. players take the role of a male or female smurf tasked with building a new Smurf village after the evil Gargamel discovers the location of the original village. This inovles clearing land and constructing homes and workshops as part of a smurf relocation effort. Gameplay activity is limited by an energy gauge and by the total number of resources needed to purchase and then construct various structures.
As players increase an overall Happiness rating for their village by adding structures and decorations, “celebrity” smurfs from the franchise’s roster of characters begin appear in the village, demanding more structures or decorations. Players must continuously clear the land of plants and rocks to harvest resources for building and supplying structures. There is no farming mechanic or worker number restriction, which firmly sets The Smurfs & Co. apart from Capcom Mobile’s The Smurfs Village for iOS.
For those confused by the agreements that separate social and mobile gaming rights to a licenses, know that it’s common practice for large franchises to divide up the brand across a number of partners for different platforms so that they can choose top-performers on each platform. Sometimes, this even splits out by geographic region, which is why there were multiple licensed Deal or No Deal social games on Facebook for different regions before developer iWin negotiated for worldwide rights to develop a Facebook game.
Getting back to the Smurfs on Facebook, Ubisoft has strong cross-promotion for the recently-released The Smurfs film that has contributed to its early release growth despite the fact that the game leverages the art and characters of the original cartoon. The developer was able to get the game live in time for the film’s opening and an early in-game quest prompts players to Like The Smurfs film fan page on Facebook. Additionally, pop-ups displaying the film’s poster appear at least once per gameplay session at time of press.
The film came out in North America on July 29 and so far has received negative reviews while taking in over $100 million in domestic total box office. The film is just now entering international release, though the game is live in several countries already. Ubisoft says it has not engaged in ad spend of any kind and that all of Smurfs & Co.’s growth is due to the enduring popularity of the franchise and from cross-promotion with the film and other Ubisoft Facebook games. As an aside, Castle & Co.’s MAU and DAU have shot up 193% and 266% respectively in the time since Smurfs & Co.’s launch.
As far as social features go, Smurfs plays it safe with standard neighbor visits and giftable construction items. Monetization comes primarily in the form of premium buildings, decoration items, and full energy refill items available for Facebook Credits. Players can also purchase resources and building materials to speed up construction. A soft currency, Smurf Coins, is the primary means of purchasing most structures and decorations. A second soft currency, Smurfberries, is used to purchase low-level energy packs.
As for the future of the game, Ubisoft Active Game Manager Chong Ahn tells ISG that weekly updates will add new content to Smurfs & Co. even after the film exits theaters. He also says larger updates will introduce a daily bonus system, more areas to explore and expand into, and additional story elements around Gargamel’s Smurf hunt.
You can follow The Smurfs & Co.’s progress using AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.