So players are jumping off of the “social” game bandwagon at lightning speeds and everyone is flailing around wildly asking why.
Look at the chart here and you will notice a few things:
1) Older games are generally declining faster than newer games. This tells us that users are growing tired of the same old formulas. This isn’t unique for “social” games. Look at the numbers of people still playing Project Gotham Racing 4 or some other “core” game. People just tire eventually. Remember when everyone was playing Snood? This bodes poorly for copycat games. Where once people couldn’t get enough farming, restauranteuring, etc., the platform will have to branch out to new genres (not just new themes!) to continue growing. This isn’t a shock – it is expected. Did you really think more people would be playing Farmville in 2011? 2012? 2020? At some point the genre had to peak or level off.
2) But newer games are also losing steam. Treasure Isle, for instance, is down half a million users. This could be for a number of reasons. One is that Facebook has had a lot of negative publicity lately with regards to privacy. Users could simply be not logging on or shedding the platform across the board. Some loss must be attributed to this, but there’s little forward-looking devs can do about that.
Some blame the across-the-board losses on the removed ability to spam via notifications. If these newer games are designed on the same models where one has to be reminded to play, then they will suffer the same user burnout as in (1). Since these games do have some bits that are new coats of paint, they should weather the storm for longer.
3) The gross data tells us nothing about whether the users leaving were the lookie-loo free players or the folks spending cash on virtual tchotchkes. If it is the former, is it really such a blow to Facebook developers? The data behind this will clearly be held close to the individual developers’ chests.
4) Older games that aren’t declining as much are games where you don’t have to be nagged or pressured to play them – they are generally fun in of themselves. Texas Hold’em and Bejeweled Blitz are the examples here. The novelty of “I’m playing a game with friends on Facebook” is wearing off. Now the games actually have to have some fun mechanics to stick, which sucks because it is a lot harder…
Of course, it is just easier to whine and complain that we can’t spam notifications anymore.