Despite Controversy, Pencake Is the Largest Known Quiz Developer on Facebook

PencakeYou’ve probably never heard of Pencake Limited, but the Hong Kong-based developer is the largest non-social gaming developer on Facebook — at least by monthly active users, as it now has 36.2 million, according to AppData. Why? It’s a quiz application developer, with more than 100 titles (and perhaps many more) in a variety of languages, that has managed to grow despite Facebook’s efforts to tune down these sorts of apps.

Founded in 2008, the company describes itself as a “marketing solutions provider” that makes custom quizzes, contests and other campaigns for other companies. Its web site currently lists a number of Asian brands as well as others like Microsoft and Olay as clients.

Pencake is most visible due to a series of core applications: Element Analyst, Friends Interview, Star of the Day, Five Friends Analyst, Gifts Creator, and Create Your Quiz.

Create Your Quiz alone sits atop the Pencake list with over 22.3 million monthly active users (followed distantly by Element Analyst Creator at 2.7 million). This has led to the creation of lots of quizzes, with each localized in over 20 languages, including Chinese, Spanish, Russian and French. This method of growth on the Facebook platform is not anything new. In fact, the Gift Creator and Create Your Quiz apps ought to ring a bell for long-time Facebook users.

Facebook has been making a few changes that have made these sorts of applications more visible. It has started associating many child quiz apps with the parent apps, which both shows these apps to be much bigger than they appeared before. More importantly for growth, it condensed multiple news feed stories from apps into single entries in news feeds, meaning that users had to click to see all of the news feed stories about the app.

Pencake has been, according to other developers, an especially aggressive quiz-maker, having been accused of many acts of spam on the Facebook developer forum (in fact, the company appears to be admitting to spamming in the Hong Kong press). However, when we asked the company, founder Terry Tsang said that it has stopped these practices, that it has been talking to Facebook, and that it continues to improve its apps. We’ve seen some user complaints, but we expect Facebook will take action if there are more problems.

The platform has been defined by developers pushing the limits of what Facebook offered in every way possible. The company has had to scale back many features, like third-party notifications, because developers have abused them. Given the years of back and forth on platform design and regulation, it’s surprising to see a company like Pencake get this far.

[Image credit: Facebook Developer Forum member xiaoten]