What Keeps No. 1 Facebook Game SongPop On Top?

By Justin Lafferty 

Many popular Facebook games are like fireworks: They rise and explode, then disappear. SongPop, recently named Facebook’s top game of 2012, relies on more than pyrotechnics to please users. Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of SongPop developer FreshPlanet, told AllFacebook that the game has stayed popular simply because people have always and will always love music.

SongPop enjoyed modest success earlier this year, but then its popularity skyrocketed as it gained an endorsement from Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in June, and the social network highlighted the application on its developers blog in July. The game works much like a 21st-century version of popular TV show Name That Tune. Users can pick a friend (or a random person) and see who can guess what song is playing faster. The quicker the correct answer, the more points. The more points users earn, the more victories they rack up. The more victories they earn, the more genres of music they can unlock.

However, unlike many popular games, SongPop was able to hold on to its success, rising quickly, then settling instead of falling. Metrics from sister site AppData show SongPop’s wild success over the summer:

Over the past month, AppData shows that SongPop has consistently (roughly 70 percent of the time) earned a five-star rating from its users:

Nouzareth talked with AllFacebook about the surprise of seeing SongPop earn the top spot among Facebook’s best social games of the year:

It was a welcome surprise. We are very happy. We were very proud and even more so because it’s really by the players themselves. I think they took into account not only the ratings, but also the engagement and other criteria like the ratio of install and likes. It’s really ranking the quality of the game perceived by the users. We were very happy that we came first.

So how did it happen? Simple: People love music and they love competition. While dragons, zombies, and vampires may trend up and down, music is a constant presence in users’ lives. The application allows users to not only test their musical knowledge, but discover new songs and artists. SongPop has also partnered with iTunes, allowing users to easily purchase songs that they hear during the game.

After the game grew rapidly, FreshPlanet started adding new ways to not only encourage new users to play, but to keep the original users engaged, Nouzareth said:

On our side of things, we have a few differences from other games. First of all, we are dealing with music, and I think music never dies; people will always like music and, for so many people, music is the center of their life … We’re working hard also to add more features so people will like the game and stay longer and invite friends, and they love it. We continue adding more music discovery in the game, so that people can start with SongPop and they can go to iTunes and others so they can buy songs.

In 2013, Nouzareth said, FreshPlanet wants to continue to tap into the social power it has built by adding more features to keep users sharing the app with their friends. Nouzareth noted that his company is working on improving the mobile experience for SongPop.

He also said SongPop plans to use targeting soonso that not only can a user purchase a song they just heard via iTunes, but if that band is coming to their area soon, they’ll be able to purchase tickets to a concert, too.

Readers: Are you addicted to SongPop?