3 Ways Developers Drive Users To Facebook Games

Recently, we noticed that RockYou had been promoting it’s ZooWorld application by using graphic ads on the Meebo chat service. This is certainly another sign of the growth of Facebook games, not only in reach, but in value to advertisers, as they pay to make placements on disparate networks or in this case, chat aggregators. We investigate how other game companies are attracting users to their Facebook games from outside of Facebook.

Cross-Platform Integration

One of the effective ways that Facebook game developers promote their applications outside of Facebook is through cross-platform games. One example is EA’s iPhone Scrabble game, which leverages a connection between the iPhone game and the Facebook application by using Facebook Connect. Being able to continue their Scrabble game from their iPhone or from Facebook gives users a great incentive to have both versions. Players are able to play their game on iPhone against players who are playing on Facebook.

The two game clients talk to each other completely, and this makes it useful to install it on Facebook so you can continue your game while you’re logged on to Facebook at home. The revenue here comes on the iPhone side, as the Facebook version is free, but there’s no doubt that the goal is to have players playing the game from either platform, depending on where they are. While not the hugest game on Facebook, Scrabble has steadily grown since it’s release in 2008, and now has over 1,000,000 MAUs. The iPhone game is always in the top 25 of games for the iPhone games category.

Cross-Site Integration

Game developers also attract users to their Facebook Games by implementing the game on disparate sites. Zynga recently announced a deal with MSN, where Farmville would be playable on the MSN Games site, and soon, the Live Messenger chat client. The company leverages Facebook Connect directly from the point of play, and therefore allows complete interoperability between players on the remote site and players on Facebook. This incents users of MSN Games and Live Messenger to engage with this game and invite their Live messenger friends to play, thereby bringing in players from outside the network. If a friend didn’t use Facebook often (or not at all), they would more easily be incentivized to join this Facebook game, and may look for more games in the future.

Off-Platform Ads

Finally, we see these ads on Meebo by RockYou. By simply spreading awareness of these Facebook games to users of a chat service like Meebo, RockYou intends to attract new players to social gaming. This is different than strategies that involve CPA install networks, where users that play one game are incentivized to click and play another. Certainly, the future will likely have many of these big ad network companies and game developers attempting to reach out to disparate parts of the web and new global audiences to advertise their games. With that in mind, we’re likely still in the early stages of growth for social gaming.