Hidden object games on Facebook aren’t nearly as prevalent as farm or citybuilding sims, but they’re gaining ground among monthly and daily active users. Two of April’s top 25 Facebook games were from the genre: Zynga’s Hidden Chronicles (at No. 3 in MAU and No. 4 in DAU) and Disney Playdom’s Gardens of Time (at No. 23 in MAU and No. 21 in DAU). Here’s a look the top five hidden object on Facebook games by traffic.
Editor’s Note: Facebook is currently experiencing data reporting delays for MAU and DAU numbers since April 5, 2012. Facebook is working to resolve this issue and we’ve backdated our traffic analysis to April 5, 2012.
Zynga’s Hidden Chronicles quickly became one of the company’s top-performing titles when it launched in January. Traffic peaked at 33.4 million MAU on Feb. 22, 2012 and has been in decline for the past couple of months. The game’s DAU shows a different pattern, however, with a number of gains and drops. Between March 21 and March 22, Hidden Chronicles spiked to 7.4 million DAU, nearly matching its February 10 peak of 7.5 million DAU. It’s now back down to 6.2 million DAU.
Hidden Chronicles asks players to solve the mystery of their uncle’s disappearance, uncovering clues as they play through various painted hidden object scenes. Players are also tasked with restoring their uncle’s mansion with items purchased from the in-game store and unlocking new areas to explore by earning trophies and reaching other milestones like accumulating a certain amount of soft currency and clues. These milestones and the online leaderboards encourage players to replay scenes in order, and Zynga also seems to be getting on the player-created content bandwagon, as the company held a contest in February to let players design scenes that would be included in the game.
As the most recent game to launch on this list, Hidden Chronicles features many of the same monetization techniques that other hidden object titles use: Players are encouraged to purchase hard currency in order to replenish energy, bypass milestones and acquire premium vanity items for the manor grounds. Note that the game also benefits from Zynga’s massive cross-promotion network and is playable on Zynga’s recently launched platform.
Disney Playdom’s Gardens of Time continues to bring in high traffic numbers, even though its past its 17.2 million MAU prime seen in September 2011, at just 5.8 million MAU as of April 5. The game’s DAU has dropped from its 4 million peak from August 2011 to 1.3 million DAU.
Gardens of Time casts players as agents recruited by the Time Society, which sends them on missions throughout history to find clues, solve mysteries and prevent other groups from abusing time travel for their own gain. Hidden object gameplay takes place on various painted historiogeographic scenes, including Victorian England and Ancient Egypt. There’s also a citybuilding/decoration mechanic courtesy of the Time Garden, which players are encouraged to expand as the game progresses.
Monetization occurs via hard currency, which can be used to speed up production on vanity pieces and purchase energy in order to continue playing through hidden object scenes.
Blackwood & Bell is Playdom’s first spiritual successor to Gardens of Time. The game launched in March of 2012 and hit peaks of 2.5 million MAU and 510,000 DAU in that same month. The game now claims 2.2 million MAU and 430,000 fDAU.
Like the other hidden object games on this list, players are tasked with solving a larger mystery via hidden object scenes and building up a section of property (the “Evidence Yard” in this case). Players also pick up “clue” objects in the scenes they play through, which are tied to the ongoing story of the game. What helps differentiate the game from others in the genre is its “Sleuth Challenge” feature, allowing players to engage in asynchronous matches where friends try to find as many hidden objects as possible.
Playdom launched Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers today and the title will undoubtedly draw players thanks to the Disney name. As a result, Blackwood & Bell Mysteries may very well be overshadowed by both of the studio’s other hidden object games in the coming months.
Game Insight’s Mystery Manor has the most erratic traffic of any title on this list, thanks to its large spikes. Just two months after it launched in April 2011, reached nearly 2.2 million MAU before dipping to 1.76 million MAU in July 2011. Traffic jumped again in October to 3.8 million before sliding back down to its current levels at 990,000 MAU. Mystery Manor’s DAU shows a nearly identical pattern: It reached 338,000 DAU in June 2011, dropped to 296,000 DAU in July 2011, bounced to 602,000 DAU in September 2011 and is currently at 250,000 DAU. These jumps in traffic could be related to 6waves’ publishing and cross-promotion, to the game’s iPad release (in winter 2011) or to other user acquisition activities.
The story in Mystery Manor has players trying to escape from a mansion they’ve suddenly become trapped in, accomplished by searching rooms for clues and (hopefully) finding a way out. Hidden object gameplay takes place in painted rooms, while players navigate around the manor via a 2D map and unlock new rooms via milestones. Aside from leaderboards, the game features an additional social mechanic by placing friends on a player’s map. Visiting players provide daily powerups for their friends, and can also earn additional soft currency and special items when they visit another person’s map by clicking on different rooms.
5. Hidden Haunts, Making Fun — 470,000 MAU, 50,000 DAU
Making Fun’s Hidden Haunts peaked in March 2012 at 560,000 MAU and is currently sitting at 470,000 MAU. The game’s highest DAU activity was on March 14 with 90,000 DAU, which has since dropped down to 50,000 DAU.
Hidden Haunts puts players in charge of a team of “specialists” tasked with getting rid of a town’s ghost problem, with various story chapters taking place in different haunted buildings. The plot was originally going to include a missing relative players were searching for, but it was changed in order to distinguish the game from Hidden Chronicles and World Mysteries.
Hidden Haunts stands out from the crowd — for better or for worse — thanks to its graphics and building mechanics. The game utilizes photorealistic imagery instead of the painted scenery that’s currently the norm. While it’s notable that using photographs to create the game’s content is certainly a different approach, it’s been noted this makes the gameplay much more difficult because items are harder to identify. Instead of expanding a base, players build out from villages and eventually turn them into sprawling, haunted cities. This portion of the game plays similar to other city builders, and reaching certain milestones unlocks new scenes to play through.