ISA 2011: How Will Small and Medium Social Game and App Developers Grow on Facebook Next Year?

January 25th | San Francisco

A few big social game developers, like Zynga and Playfish, might seem to be the big winners on the Facebook Platform so far. But there is both a range of successful smaller gaming companies and a healthy group of non-gaming applications doing well alongside the biggest players. In fact, even as the largest incumbents have lost users or stayed flat over the past year, many others have grown.

Fueled by Facebook’s ongoing expansion around the world, improving social game and app product quality, and increasingly sophisticated techniques of making money through virtual goods, the ecosystem is continuing to offer opportunities to smaller players and newer entrants. Here’s a quick look at some of the lesser known companies that have been building successful social app and game businesses on Facebook this past year.

But how will small and medium developers grow in 2011, given the rising cost of user acquisition and changes to Facebook’s viral channels in 2010? We’ll be examining what these and other developers have done to make their applications succeed despite a changing platform environment at Inside Social Apps InFocus 2011, our January conference looking at opportunities and uncertainties affecting social apps and games.

6 Waves

Using its own simple quizzing and gifting apps as starting points for cross promotion, the developer has morphed into a publisher of games from other developers around the world. While its own apps bring in 2.56 million daily active users and 30.8 million monthly active users, the other ones it publishes add up to 6.9 million DAU and 35 million MAU.

Kabam

Having started life making television and sports applications, it transitioned into social gaming late last year, and has found big revenue streams in more traditional-style games like Kingdom of Camelot, even though it’s relatively small in terms of traffic, at 938,000 DAU and 10.3 million MAU. Kabam has grown from just over 20 to nearly 200 employees in 2010 alone.

Booyah

The company is one of a few to have hits on both mobile and social. MyTown’s self-reported 3.3 million players make it one of the larger location-based games on the iOS platform. Nightclub City has a solid 930,000 DAU and 6.41 million MAU on Facebook and has distinguished itself in the industry as a high-quality game.

Digital Chocolate

Founded by industry veteran Trip Hawkins in 2003, the company focused on casual and mobile gaming for much of its history. But it spent the first part of the year launching titles on Facebook, and hit paydirt with city simulation game Millionaire City. It is now the tenth-largest developer on Facebook, with 17.9 million MAU and around 3 million DAU, and it is busy rolling out newly-themed versions of its hit, with titles like Hollywood City and Vegas City.

Wooga

The German company only launched at the beginning of this year, but it has put together a quick string of successes, with its three games – Bubble Island, Monster World, and Brain Buddies – reaching 11.7 million MAU and 1.94 million DAU. Wooga remains the largest social game developer (by MAU) based in Europe.

Microsoft

While not at all a startup, Microsoft is a good example of an established company with an existing service that has managed to find more usage through Facebook. Its Windows Live Messenger application added Facebook integration earlier this year that allowed users to share information between the two services, and it has since climbed to 8.51 million DAU.

RootMusic

The company’s BandPage application allows musician to add highly customizable applications to their Pages, stream music post photos and videos to users news feeds, and more. The app, which includes a premium version, is bringing in a total of 407,000 DAU and 8.77 million MAU.