CrowdStar still building for Facebook, just through mobile

By Mike Thompson Comment

It was recently reported that CrowdStar would be leaving Facebook in favor of building titles for smartphones and tablets, but the developer tells us this isn’t quite true.

“CrowdStar is fully committed to mobile,” CEO Peter Relan tells us. “We’re going to keep running our profitable PC Facebook games like Happy Aquarium, Happy Pets, Wasteland Empires and It Girl but our focus going forward will be purely mobile-based. We see tremendous potential in mobile as our target audience of females is very active there. We also have plans to create Facebook social-graph-based mobile web games as well that work across Facebook and mobile.”

Most of CrowdStar’s games on the social network show dwindling traffic but they’re still drawing respectable user numbers. Happy Aquarium and Happy Pets both show around 250,000 daily active users. At their peaks in late 2009, Happy Aquarium had 8.1 million DAU and Happy Pets had 2.9 million. It Girl is down from its February 2011 peak of 1.4 million DAU to 130,000 DAU. Wasteland Empires currently has the smallest population of players, down to 40,000 DAU from its September 2011 high of 83,000 DAU. CrowdStar was also one of the earliest adopters of Facebook Credits and Relan was a vocal proponent for the virtual currency. The developer reported that the average revenue per user was up by 50 percent after it started using Credits and signed an exclusive deal in 2010 to use them in all of its games.

Despite its favored status, mobile is where many developers see the most opportunity in the short term. However, as developers like CrowdStar begin to look beyond the Facebook canvas toward mobile, they would be remiss to ignore the options Facebook provides for mobile app discovery and re-engagement. Seven out of the top 10 grossing iOS apps are integrated with Facebook, as are seven out of the top 10 free iOS apps. Facebook can prove especially profitable for mobile titles, as developer wooga recently revealed how users who log into Diamond Dash Mobile with Facebook are eight times more likely to spend money and tend to spend 50 percent more on average.

Mobile game developers can implement Facebook single sign-on so users can log in with their social network account and then find and invite friends to play. This is something Zynga utilizes for its “With Friends” titles, and the company says mobile is driving bookings growth both year over year and quarter over quarter. Facebook’s mobile platform also allows HTML5 and native iOS and Android apps to get distribution through News Feed, bookmarks and requests. When users navigate to mobile app links from Facebook, the appropriate native app will open on a user’s device or lead to a download page if the user doesn’t have it yet.

Game developers also have the option to integrate Facebook Open Graph, which lets games automatically publish stories about user activity, including reaching a new high score, leveling up, earning an achievement or surpassing another friend playing the game. These stories are distributed through mobile Timeline and News Feed and can drive traffic back to a mobile game. In February, the social network said that 60 million users navigated to either mobile web or native applications that integrated with the platform each month, and these users engaged with apps roughly five times per month.