Fans Versus Active Users: An Analysis Of The Top Facebook Games

As the Facebook gaming wars continue to heat up, analysts seek as many ways as possible to measure each companies’ gaming success. Monthly Active Users (MAUs), Daily Active Users (DAUs), Page Views, Monetization… the list goes on. There are as many ways to measure an application’s success as there are applications in the Facebook directory. That said, the dimension of user loyalty has always been interesting to me, and the concept of the users-to-fans ratio for a given application does a good job of indicating what percentage of users play the game and publicly demonstrate their affinity by signing up as a fan.

Here, we look at the three top game developers on Facebook: Playfish (49m MAU), Crowdstar (49m MAU) and Zynga (230m MAU). We’ll examine the top 5 games from each publisher, and then analyze the fan-to-MAU ratios, as well as apply some insight to the findings.

A quick note about the action of becoming a fan: While some games provide a “become a fan” button from within the game itself, users are still forced to head to the game’s “application page” and click the “become a fan” button on that page to actually become a fan. This is the reason that number of fans is a meaningful number: users can’t easily be tricked into becoming a fan, so if they have signed up as a fan they have done it intentionally. This is as opposed to things like wall-posts, where games simply ask the user to “publish your activity to your wall” after every action, causing more social behaviour than the user necessarily wants or even knows about.

The highest Fans to MAU ratio among the three developers is Playfish, with 0.24, or approximately one fan for every 4 MAUs. This is carried mostly by the fact that Pet Society and Restaurant City have scores of 0.26 and 0.27 fans per MAU, and show that while those games haven’t grown to the size of Farmville, they have loyal fanbases. This can also be attributed to the longevity of the games: Fans that joined Pet Society back when it first started in 2008 would probably not remove themselves as a fan, even after they stopped playing the game.

Crowdstar was in second place, again led by the strength of its top two games, Happy Acquarium and Happy Island. These games are relatively newer, and this shows that their games are not just attracting gamers quickly, but fans as well.

Zynga, in third place, is an understandable result just by the sheer enormity of their catalogue. They have an incredible number of MAU, and games like Farmville hit on new markets that may not be comfortable with the process of clicking over to the application page to become a fan. That said, Farmville still has an excellent ratio of 0.24, with a total number of fans of nearly 19 million users. That is as many fans as there are MAU for Playfish’s top game, Pet Society.

Other elements to note here are that by looking at the above chart, we can see that Zynga’s top 5 games sum up to 180 million MAU, which is four to five times Crowdstar’s 50 million and Playfish 40 million MAU. The ratio is between 6 or 7 times for DAU, with Zynga at around 60 million and Crowdstar and Playfish at 11 million and 9 million, respectively. Also, while not particularly significant due to the transient nature of DAU, the Fans to DAU ratio corroborated proportionally quite well with the Fans to MAU ratio for Playfish games, which indicates that those games’ DAU are reflective of their MAU, and not suffering swings in popularity. Games like Restaurant Life (Beta) by Crowdstar, on the other hand, had proportionally lower Fans to DAU ratios than Fans to MAU ratios, indicating the game’s popularity today may be quite lower than its steady monthly growth and fan accumulation.

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