FarmVille: The Biggest Social Game of 2009, By the Numbers

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By Eric Eldon

n102452128776_1831While recent Zynga games have grabbed the headlines this fall — first Café World, then FishVille and most recently PetVille — virtual farming game FarmVille continues to grow by millions of users every month. Here’s a closer look at the stats for this social gaming hit.

As of today, the game has 72.9 million monthly active users, according to AppData, making it by far the most popular game on Facebook. The closest has less than half the number of monthly actives — Café World, at 32.2 million. Put another way, FarmVille is played by more than 20 percent of Facebook’s 350 million users every single month. In the “long tail” of social games on Facebook, it is the “fat head.”

Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the game also has grown to have the most daily active users of any app — by far. As of today, it has 27.5 million daily active users. Café World comes in a very distant second with 9.62 million DAU. This means FarmVille has a “sticky factor” (DAU/MAU) of 38 percent, which is one of the highest out of any large application that we know of.

While FarmVille was not the first farming game t0 get big on Facebook, Zynga has effectively used various promotional methods, from cross-promotion on its toolbar to ad buys, to make it big. There are still questions about why FarmVille, and not the many other virtual simulation games on Facebook, has gotten so huge.

And, although social gaming insiders usually consider other genres, like role-playing mafia games, to be more lucrative, we can assume that FarmVille is bringing in serious cash with DAU counts this high. Like most other successful social games, this one has been making its money from virtual goods, specifically things like plant seeds and utilitarian items like pink tractors.

Perhaps people really do just like the farming concept more than they like tending virtual restaurants, pets or fish? Or, perhaps next year, we’ll see games in those genres come to match and even surpass FarmVille? “My father-in-law — a farmer — told me five years ago that I should make a farm game,” as Zynga vice president Bill Mooney related at VentureBeat’s DiscoveryBeat event last week. Mooney, a veteran game producer, says he laughed off the idea at the time. But now he’s the general manager of FarmVille, and one of the key people responsible for its success. Maybe, as his father-in-law suggested, social gamers do have some sort of special connection to civilization’s roots.

App Leaderboard
Name MAU↓
1. icon FarmVille 72,898,865
2. icon Café World 32,175,759
3. icon Causes 29,261,811
4. icon Social Interview 27,873,612
5. icon Happy Aquarium 27,405,705
6. icon Mafia Wars 26,815,058
7. icon FishVille 26,186,935
8. icon Birthday Cards 24,957,972
9. icon Pet Society 21,450,666
10. icon Texas HoldEm Poker 20,349,406