What Happens to a Facebook Game Without Viral Channels

Facebook’s communication channels are central to social game distribution, retention, and engagement, but there’s rarely an opportunity to see what happens to a game when all of its communication channel access is cut off.

It has now been about a week since Facebook suspended all viral communication channels for most LOLapps games. Although changes will take a while to cycle into a monthly active user graph, an AppData graph of LOLapps’s Critter Island game’s daily active users shows why a communication channel suspension is almost as bad as an outright removal of an app:

The first dip is from Facebook’s weekend suspension of the entire app, while the second is from the more recent loss of viral channels.

The only app to escape was Ravenwood Fair, which worked fine until the middle of this week but has now has its channels blocked as well. From the gap between the suspensions of LOLapps’ other titles and that of Ravenwood, it seems possible that the two policy enforcements are at least somewhat unrelated.

On the other hand, if Ravenwood is subject to the same six-month moratorium as the rest of LOLapps’ titles, or even a large fraction of that time, it’s going to see almost all of its active users diminished. [Update: Ravenwood will be back on the 10th; see below.] The Critter Island graph shows how quickly players stream out of a title when its channels are suspended; it also shows that the game was already having trouble recovering its DAU after the first suspension.

During the course of this week, LOLapps launched RavenwoodFair.com, a version of the game on a separate website. But even on its own website, the game uses Facebook Connect, and is still subject to the moratorium.

Zynga, too, facing the challenge of being so dependent on Facebook, has been rumored to be planning its own stand-alone game portal for a while, but the company hasn’t launched anything yet. It’s possible that Ravenwood will undergo some changes, but as it is, a presence outside of Facebook won’t be enough to sustain the game.

Update: We asked LOLapps for more information about Ravenwood Fair’s suspension, and received the following response:

“We have worked closely with the Facebook team to ensure that our applications and games are in compliance with their policies and look forward to contiuing to partner with them to bring the safest possible experience to our users. Fans of Lolapps should look forward to a new focus on gaming and exciting developments. Ravenwood Fair and all of it’s viral channels will be restored November on 10th.”

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Leave a Reply

9 Responses to “What Happens to a Facebook Game Without Viral Channels”

  1. A Viral Game without Viral Channels says:

    [...] Social Games just posted a good blog post that shows what happens to social games when they lose all access to viral channels (wall posting, [...]

  2. anon says:

    this article is pretty misleading. lolapps was sending traffic from all their other apps into ravenwood…it does not measure what critter island would have looked like without viral channels since critter island was essentially shut down and turned into a cross promo page

  3. Chris Morrison says:

    Critter Island hasn’t been shut down, anon, it still works fine as a game. There is a banner at the top asking players to try Ravenwood Fair, and an in-game incitement to try Ravenwood in exchange for having a structure completed, but LOLapps isn’t directly forcing players over to Ravenwood as they did with their non-game apps.

  4. Facebook’s Latest Punishments Hit LOLapps, Other Developers says:

    [...] Update: Several readers have noted that Ravenwood has also had its channels suspended; the app will have its privileges reinstated on November 10th, according to LOLapps. More here. [...]

  5. The Daily Stash « GamePron says:

    [...] casual affair: For the less hardcore. What happens to a Facebook game without viral channels – I’m still playing Ravenwood Fair, but only [...]

  6. Glenn Reynolds says:

    Very interesting statistics. I think Facebook is caught between a rock and a hard place, they’re trying to protect their own interests, but need games to keep people, so its a give and take strategy with them with regards to making the best possible social channels available for its star developers. Ultimately, I think sites like http://facebook.getmorepopular.com will become more and more important for developers that want to get their app out there in front of fans. There’s very few easy other ways to get fans quickly unless you have a lot of money.

  7. Facebook’s Year in Mobile: Seeking Ubiquity on Devices, and in Apps Too says:

    [...] hungry for a way to diversify off the platform, where user acquisition costs have risen after the company crippled viral channels this year. Android and iOS present opportunities to lessen dependence on Facebook. Plus, smartphone [...]

  8. Facebook's Year in Mobile: Seeking Ubiquity on Devices, and | Bradley A. Hensley says:

    [...] hungry for a way to diversify off the platform, where user acquisition costs have risen after the company crippled viral channels this year. Android and iOS present opportunities to lessen dependence on Facebook. Plus, smartphone [...]

  9. Tina says:

    Do NOT USE getmorepopular.com they don’t give any results, they lie about giving refunds. I’ve lost over $1000, and in my opinion they are a scam. I couldn’t find bad reviews about them when I looked before I went with them, only to realise now that they flood every place they can find with false positive reviews. They try to put you off, promising refunds that never come – I am writing this to hope that other people don’t loose money to them like I did.

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