At 48 Million Players, CityVille Could Pass FarmVille Within Days

With just two weeks left to go for 2010, CityVille has become this year’s biggest growth story. The game, itself only 18 days old, has 47.9 million monthly active users, putting it close to FarmVille’s current 56.3 million.

If its current growth rates continue, CityVille will pass FarmVille in three more days. Even if it slows, CityVille should pass the farming game this week.

A week ago, when CityVille had a mere 22 million MAU, we covered four reasons for its growth: cross-promotion, international users, high production values and Zynga’s expertise at working the Facebook platform. Another factor that appears to be helping it is the re-introduction of third-party notifications to the top menu bar earlier this month.

Even with those factors in effect, CityVille’s gains are astounding. No Facebook game has ever grown as quickly. FarmVille, which took about three months to hit the same point, is the only one to ever grow as large.

FarmVille’s top point was over 80 million MAU, which now seems reasonable for CityVille to reach or even surpass, given the growing number of international gamers on Facebook.

Its effects on Zynga’s numbers are still working out. The developer is at 241 million MAU, a gain of about 18 percent over where it stood a month ago. Its daily active user gain of 25 percent, putting it at 55.7 million DAU, is even sharper. But long-term both the hard numbers and percentages should change significantly.

One trend we can see developing is a drop in DAU for Zynga’s core sim titles, FarmVille and FrontierVille. Both appear to be growing, with small MAU gains in the period since CityVille launched. But FrontierVille has lost about eight percent of its DAU in the past month, with FarmVille losing two percent.

We can theorize that a significant number of CityVille players have been recycled from Facebook’s other sims, so Zynga’s gains will moderate over time. CityVille’s DAU as a percentage of MAU, currently at 30 percent, may also drop over time.

The bottom line, though, is that Zynga has a huge hit on its hands. CityVille hasn’t yet received the kind of press attention that FarmVille got at its peak; that may come later, or not at all. But developers should be paying attention, especially those that previously thought another FarmVille-scale hit would be impossible on Facebook.

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5 Responses to “At 48 Million Players, CityVille Could Pass FarmVille Within Days”

  1. CityVille Approaches FarmVille on This Week’s List of Fastest-Growing Facebook Apps by MAU says:

    [...] the top menu bar earlier in the month. We’ve covered these as the game progressed, with our latest post on the subject this morning at Inside Social Games. Here’s the full [...]

  2. Only Zynga? says:

    Of course Zynga has a huge audience to cross-promote, from FarmVille to FrontierVille, and from those two to CityVille. Not to forget the huge amount of email addresses Zynga has collected. So of course a huge hit with tens of millions of DAU is possible for Zynga. The question is, would that be possible in such a scale for other developers? I’d say no.

  3. Chris Morrison says:

    You’re right, for now only Zynga could pull this off. But what they’re doing can be replicated at smaller scale by others. The bar for success is a fraction of what Zynga is pulling in.

  4. Paul Gilbert says:

    depends on how you look at it.

    yes in terms of raw player numbers Zynga has a huge userbase as a starting point. However if you look at things in terms of percentages, gaining 18% MAU and 25% DAU overall for the month and why couldn’t other developers achieve similar growth?

    What I find really interesting is how social mechanics in the game are everywhere but at the same time executed in such a way as to not be massively intrusive. this will have driven massive growth. Quite simply increasing your population is directly dependent on your friends list.

    Having played Legacy of a Thousand Suns during the same period I have to say whilst that game is visually stunning not once has there been even a hint that I should introduce any friends whatsoever.

    Not exactly rocket science is it really?

  5. This Week’s Headlines on Inside Social Games says:

    [...] At 48 Million Players, CityVille Could Pass FarmVille Within Days [...]

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