DNA Games Sunsets Casino City, Bar World and Slot City on Facebook Following Zynga Acquisition

Late yesterday, DNA Games posted announcements on the Pages of Casino City, Bar World and Slot City announcing each game’s impending closure set for July 8. The developer was acquired by Zynga last month to the purpose of developing new intellectual property.

Typically, we see social games on Facebook sunsetting only after a prolonged period of decline across monthly active users and monthly active users. These games usually hit their peak traffic within three to four months of launch and then spend as many as 12 months shrinking before the developer moves to sunset or change its growth strategy. According to research published in Inside Virtual Goods: The Future of Social Gaming 2011, engaged social gamers stick around for about two months before moving on. This tells us that decline slopes are impacted as much by new users not coming in as by old users lapsing.

In the case of DNA Games’ library, we see some inconsistencies with other sunset scenarios with its two newer games, Bar World and Slot City. The former launched in November 2010 and reached peak traffic only one month after launch and instead of steadily decline, it experienced a resurgence in traffic almost four months later. The latter, meanwhile, only just launched in early April, barely giving it three months in which to aim for peak numbers. Both games saw a marked decline in May just prior to the acquisition announcement.

Casino City, meanwhile, tells a slightly different story. This game is DNA Games’ oldest Facebook title, launched in April 2010, and by far its largest, accounting for over half the developer’s total MAU and DAU across all its games. Casino City differs from what we think of as a typical sunset pattern in that didn’t reach peak traffic until February of this year. While the beginning of this social game’s “slow burn” life cycle differs from other sunsetting games, however, the end of it looks similar — Casino City began a downward slope at the beginning of March that remained consistent even throughout the acquisition announcement period.

Had DNA Games continued along a sunsetting strategy we’ve seen with Playfish and PlayFirst, we could’ve expected it to migrate Casino City users to Slot City as development efforts shifted over to the new game. The acquisition by Zynga, however, puts the developer in a unique position. On the one hand, DNA could’ve maintained its thriving game while closing its declining games — similar to what ZipZapPlay appears to be doing with Baking Life and Happy Habitat after the developer was acquired by PopCap Games. On the other, DNA can close all its games at once and “start fresh” with new IP for Zynga that in no way relies on player loyalty from its previous games. In either case, Zynga’s overall MAU and DAU dwarfs DNA Games’ many times over, so traffic probably isn’t much of a concern for the developer at this time.

Whatever the motivation behind the closures, we’re interested to see what sunset patterns emerge among older games from established developers. As the Facebook games platform matures through its third year and social games finally reach natural “ends” somewhere between one year and two, it may be that developers begin to build games and content release schedules around a finite life cycle. What that life cycle might be probably depends on game genre and resources available for user acquisition.

DNA Games deferring to Zynga for comment on this story. Zynga would only say for the record that it continues to work with its existing studios on new IP. Zynga’s latest social game, Empires & Allies, launched June 1.

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7 Responses to “DNA Games Sunsets Casino City, Bar World and Slot City on Facebook Following Zynga Acquisition”

  1. Jennifer Kato says:

    Is anyone aware that there is a group that has been created on the day of the announcement that in 1 day is over 2000 strong to save casino city and that Zynga is not listening?

  2. DNA Games Closing Three Facebook Titles - SocialGamesToday.com says:

    [...] Social Games offers more insight on the possible choices for closing all three games as DNA become part of Zynga. The games’ [...]

  3. Gene Anderson says:

    This is a huge public relations NEGATIVE for Zynga, as thousands of disgruntled Casino City fans have a poor taste in their mouth about Zynga, who has failed to respond to their requests for an explanation or an extension of the game. See Save Casino City group on Facebook.

  4. Cathy Little Brave says:

    Slot City and Bar World – Bleh !!!! Casino City – AWESOME…need to keep it. I’m not the only one that feels that way…

  5. Tanya Canning says:

    To, Whowm it may concern

    I write you this letter and I await your REPLY
    We ask you 1 question so please tell us why,
    CASINO CITY your taking away
    Then what the FUCK are we gonna play,
    The weeks and the months people spent on this game
    Which FUCKING bright spark at Zynga’s to blame,
    I bet all along you knew this to be
    So why fucking bother with floors 2 and 3,
    It seemed like a life time to do the 1st floor
    Lets take the PISS and give em 2 more,
    Then everyday you’d add something new
    Cos you lot at Zynga have got fuck all to do,
    The time and the effort to build what we’ve got
    Then you come along AND DESTROY all the lot,
    Not a thought or a care for all the people that played
    Right to the last day that most of us stayed,
    SO WE WRITE YOU THIS LETTER, WE HAVE A RIGHT TO OUR SAY
    You left us the shit games took the best 1 away,
    so please change your mind and leave us our game
    Cos FACEBOOK without it just wont be the same,
    So I speak for the fans and all the people that play
    WE ALL AGREE CASINO CITY SHOULD STAY…

    FROM CC

  6. Mrs Lehmann says:

    There is one thing all the publications don’t talk about and that is the quality of the games offered. Casino City was, by far, the most user friendly, independent player sims style option game I’ve ever played. There were so many combinations and styles of machines, decorations and options that no two casinos were the same. And there can be no valid comparison about the quality of same against something that is so bland looking as say, Cityville, in my opinion, which I can say is visually boring! Casino City colors on their options were bright, even the dark colors were rich, there were even options that mimic’d clear glass and reflections could be seen in the marble floors of the machines sitting on them. Not to mention the inventiveness of the offerings! The circus tents with acrobats, the boutiques with their wares (you could even see the players inside the tiny boutiques!), the different wall options (rooms that opened to High Roller Rooms, Security Bases, Bathrooms, Snack Bars, etc), even though we couldn’t enter those rooms the addition of same was valid as those things are familiar to those of us who have ever been in a casino. I am saddened that a game developer whose product offering compares to cloud computing (boring with dull canned images and the “cuteness” juvenile factor built in), now has the ability to can Casino City as a generic offering rather than the individual that it was! May Z get the clue and offer a bright, active, alternative that is not as slow playing as their other offerings.

  7. Inside Social Games · EA to Acquire KlickNation as it Moves Into Core Gaming on Facebook says:

    [...] KlickNation is a relatively small developer compared to other studios producing core strategy games. According to our AppData traffic tracking service, the developer at one point enjoyed 1.3 million monthly active users, and saw around 150,000 daily active users at its peak. Today, the developer sees 395,441 monthly active users and 49,022 daily active users. In the last month, all of its major games — including its newest game, Six Gun Galaxy — have flattened in monthly and daily actives, a sign that KlickNation may be preparing to sunset the games after the acquisition is announced in the same way that DNA Games did when bought by Zynga. [...]

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