Game Development Reference
There's one type of game that usually does well on other platforms, but has a highly unreliable track record on
Facebook: games based on pre-existing games, movies, TV shows, and other intellectual property. There are
a few exceptions—for example, the top 20 games based on popularity now include Sims Social, Tetris Battle
(official spinoff of the arcade classic), and Angry Birds, based on Rovio's cross-platform hit. However, there
are far more cases where an association with a well-known brand has done little to improve the game's per-
formance. As the developers of Tetris Battle told me recently, having the name “Tetris” in their game definitely
boosted its install rate, but they had to design the game to succeed on its own to convince new players to stay.
Of course, the hard reality is that most Facebook games perform poorly, no matter what the genre. Also, it's
often difficult to spot the true winners at first. So let's look at some general guidelines to tell one from the other.
Understanding the Anatomy of a
Successful Facebook Game
My strong general advice to beginning Facebook game designers is to learn from the games on Facebook that
have reached a provable success point. However, many developers associate total MAUs with success, when
there are actually a number of other factors that go into a successful and profitable Facebook game.
To find these game design winners, I recommend using AppData.com, a website service founded by my
sometime boss Justin Smith (see sidebar interview), which extracts Facebook game MAU and DAU (daily act-
ive user) activity into handy charts (see Figure 3-4 ) . When reviewing the data, look for three factors, covered in
the next three sections.