Game Development Reference
Facebook Games: The Users, the Money,
and the Major Players
In This Chapter
• Understanding who plays Facebook games and who pays for them
• Understanding the anatomy of a successful Facebook game
• Making money in Facebook games
• Pitching publishers: who buys/publishes indie games
In the first few years after Facebook launched in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and company gave short shrift to the
games launched on their platform. But fast-growing successes like Zombies and Scrabulous in 2007 quickly
convinced the social network and Silicon Valley investors that a new market for games was emerging. Although
most of the early games had limited interaction and little resemblance to games as they were usually under-
stood, Facebook games gradually began to replicate the early computer games. Early hits like Vampire Wars
and Mob Wars (2008) resembled text-based roleplaying games (RPGs) from the 80s and 90s, while FarmVille
and CityVille (2009 and 2010) seemed like the original Sim games from that era. By 2011 and 2012, the most
popular Facebook games included arcade games (Tetris Battle, Diamond Dash), strategy games (CastleVille and
Empires & Allies), and RPGs (The Sims Social).
When Facebook officially announced its entry on the stock market, the company reported that a solid chunk of its total revenue—15 per-
cent!—was generated by leading social game developer Zynga.
This chapter takes a look at the marketplace for Facebook games and the leading developers that currently
serve it. You'll then review the game genres that are doing well on the platform and those that are floundering.
From there, you'll learn about the guidelines for spotting a successful Facebook game, and learn how developers
make money from them. Finally, the chapter closes with a survey of some top Facebook publishers who accept
indie submissions—or at the very least, have great advice for developers just starting out.
Understanding Who Plays Facebook
Games and Who Pays for Them
Many designers from the traditional game industry assume that Facebook games are only popular with casual
female gamers, sometimes called “Facebook moms.” This stereotype, although somewhat true in the social net-