DataPoint: The Top Facebook Developers of March

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King leads the pack when it comes to the top Facebook developers. According to AppData, the social gaming company had an average of 93.5 million daily active users (DAUs), giving it over 23 percent of the market in March of 2014. Microsoft had about 26.6 million DAUs in the same time frame with nearly seven percent of the market. It was followed by Zynga (18.2 million DAUs), Spotify (12.4 million DAUs) and Supercell (11.3 million DAUs). (more…)

Zynga’s FarmVille 2 Lost 4 Million DAUs in the Past Year

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Poor Zynga. The once-darling of the social gaming world has been losing users for some time now, while its competitor, King, is on the upswing.

In March of 2013, Zynga’s biggest game was Farmville 2. It had over eight million daily active users (DAUs) at the time, and had 2.73 percent of the Facebook app market, according to AppData. At the same time, King’s biggest game Candy Crush Saga had about 21.5 million DAUs and 7.27 percent of the market.

In a year’s time, Farmville 2 lost nearly four million DAUs, dropping from No. 4 in AppData’s Power Ranking to No. 20. Meanwhile, Candy Crush Saga has held onto its number one spot, gaining over 35 million DAUs in the same time period. Candy Crush now has 15.77 percent of the market, compared to FarmVille 2′s 1.15 percent. (more…)

DataPoint: What Can Zynga Learn from NaturalMotion?

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Zynga’s acquisition of NaturalMotion earlier this year signals a change in focus for the company. NaturalMotion, the U.K.-based mobile gaming company, is best known for its mobile games “CSR Racing” and “Clumsy Ninja.”

Zynga has been seeing major loses on the Facebook platform, so the acquisition could help the company in the mobile space. According to AppData, the number of monthly active users (MAUs) for Zynga’s games on Facebook has declined over 68 percent this year alone. Daily active users (DAUs) have declined almost 67 percent in the same time period. (more…)

DataPoint: Zynga Focuses on Mobile, Playing Catch-Up With King

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Zynga is introducing some of its most-popular games to iOS and Android in a few select markets before officially launching them at the end of June. The social gaming developer is playing catch up with competitor King, which got into the mobile space sooner.

“Did the company miss a beat with the transition to mobile? Absolutely. Are we fixing that? Yes, we are,” CEO of Zynga Don Mattrick told Reuters.

The company’s acquisition of NaturalMotion earlier this year also signals a new focus for the company on mobile.

Even though Zynga has focused on Facebook, King has been outperforming the company there, too. This year alone, King’s DAU/MAU engagement has increased by 17.1 percent, while Zynga’s DAU/MAU is up only 0.7 percent, according to research from AppData.

Candy Crush Saga, King’s most popular game, is up 5 percent in DAU/MAU engagement this year. FarmVille 2, Zynga’s most popular game, has grown 1.6 percent in DAU/MAU engagement in the same time period. Check out a comparison of each developer’s most-popular games, courtesy of AppData:


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Do you think Zynga’s increased focus on mobile will help it catch up to King?

Baseball Slam review

slamBaseball Slam is an iPad and iPhone game from Zynga. It is available now on the App Store as an ad-supported free download and contains additional in-app purchases.

Baseball Slam takes the simplicity and excitement of a home run derby and combines it with outrageous levels, crazy power-ups, and an easy-to-use touch control system. There’s not much to the gameplay, and the game explains its controls and mechanics in the first couple stages. Players will take control of their batter, tap the screen to receive a pitch and drag their finger from home plate to the area they want the ball to go. It’s possible to miss the pitch by swinging too slow or too early, but it won’t count against the round’s number of pitches.

Each stage has its own goal. Early stages work well in place of a tutorial. Goals in these stages often involve hitting special targets or using abilities. After players get past these stages, the game gets a bit more difficult. Goals eventually turn from tutorial to challenges, such as landing high scores. While most of these are on the fun side, they can occasionally be downright challenging. (more…)

Battlestone review

Battlestone app iconBattlestone is an iOS and Android release from Zynga. It’s available now as a free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play and carries additional in-app purchases.

Battlestone is Zynga’s first venture into the realm of action RPGs. Battlestone starts off with a brief tutorial that goes over the controls of the game. The core gameplay loops are simple: get to the end of the level, accomplish the set goal, and destroy enemies along the way. It’s a theme that’s not entirely original, but Battlestone executes it just as well as any other mobile game. The controls are a simple matter of tapping where the character should move, swiping enemies to attack them, and pressing various on-screen buttons to perform numerous tasks. Battlestone’s gameplay is simple, but it can be a lot of fun.

The tutorial also introduces players to the large amount of work that takes place outside the battlefield. Using gems and coins earned from playing (or via in-app purchase), players can buy new characters or power up the ones they already own. If players get a hold of duplicate or other unwanted characters, they can fuse them with others, allowing characters to become stronger quicker. Players are also encouraged to sign into their Zynga account and join guilds, groups of other players who can assist each other. There are a few other ways players interact with each other, but the biggest is a player vs. player duel feature, where a player can fight another player’s character and earn potentially large rewards.Battlestone screenshot

There are a ton of rewards and items to collect in Battlestone. The top of the menu screen shows off various in-game currencies and collectibles. Gems and coins are used to purchase in-game goods, potions are consumed to go on quests, and stars and trophies mark single and multiplayer progress. Multiplayer is a tad thin, and comes down to guild interaction and duels, but single player features a lot of content that will challenge many players. Single player is built around a series of quests. Each quest has its own goal and completing enough quests will unlock a boss stage. If the boss is defeated, a new map is opened and the process starts over. It’s a simple process, but the game’s difficulty will challenge players of all skill levels.

Battlestone’s monetization comes through purchasing coins and gems. Both currencies can be obtained in-game, but neither comes frequently. Gems can be used to purchase nearly every item, so a lack of gems is always noticeable. The bundles for each of these currencies ranges from $0.99 to $99.99. Players will generally need to spend at least $19.99 to get any real value from their bundles, especially with gems. Players who don’t spend much money on gems will still have many items available for purchase, but they’re also likely to miss out on buying new characters. If a player unlocks a character solely through purchasing gems, it’ll cost about $9.99. Many players may not enjoy spending $10 to unlock a random character, possibly hurting appeal to the core audience.

Overall, Battlestone is an excellent action RPG that will likely appeal to core gamers looking for a bit of action on their mobile devices. The controls work very well, and the gameplay is able to appear to both casual and experienced gamers. The array of character management options might feel a tad overwhelming for casual players, but the tutorial does an excellent job explaining how it works. The high price of in-game currency will likely turn off many players, but those who do spend will be able to get a good bang for their buck.

You can follow Battlestone’s progress on AppData, our tracking tool for mobile and social apps and developers.

PLAY

A simple role-playing game with a ton of depth and strategy.

Atlas Raider review

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CrayonPixel rolled out their freshman title on FacebookAtlas Raider. Though the player introduction is sparse, the storyline is that your father has gone missing on a treasure hunt (perhaps for crystal skulls). Only a mysterious group called “The Foundation” knows his whereabouts. They hire you to find the crystal skulls and in the process you might find your father using your guide, an enchanted atlas.

(more…)

Rovio announces Rovio Stars Publishing Initiative

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Finnish mobile game developer and creator of Angry Birds Rovio Entertainment announced the launch of its third-party mobile game publishing initiative, Rovio Stars.

Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage by developer Nitrome will be the first game published under the Rovio Stars Program, followed by Spanish developer 5 Ants’ stealth puzzle game, Tiny Thief.

Many mobile game developers like Pocket Gems, Zynga, and Kabam have launched their own third-party publishing programs recently, and we’ve heard rumors Rovio would launch a similar program for a while. In January, PocketGamer.biz all but confirmed the program’s existance when it reported that 5 Ants had been signed with Rovio but at the time we weren’t certian that this was not a talent acquisition.

“Rovio Entertainment has positioned itself as one of the powerhouses of mobile entertainment, so moving into publishing is a logical step for us at this point”, Rovio’s executive vice president of games Jami Laes said in a statment. “We want to help our fans find quality entertainment among the more than 100,000 games available in app stores. That’s where Rovio Stars comes in.”

Games that leverage Rovio’s Angry Birds brand are immensely successful, with titles showing up at the top of our weekly charts regularly, but the developer’s more recent titles based on new IP have struggled. Amazing Alex, Rovio’s first new IP after Angry Birds, is currently the No. 258 top paid app in the games genre according to traffic tracking service AppData. The Croods, based on the DreamWorks animated motion picture, is currently the No. 247 top grossing app in the games genre.

Rovio said that Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage is “coming soon” to iOS. Check back in with Inside Social Games for our full review.

Social games news roundup

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Dragons and Titans goes into open beta – Zynga partner Wyrmbyte today announced that its MOBA game Dragons and Titans has gone into open beta. You can read about our hands-on demo with the game from GDC 2013, or jump right into the game on Facebook.

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Car Town to feature Fast & Furious 6 content — Game developer Cie Games announced that it has partnered with Universal Pictures to add promotional content to its popular Facebook game Car Town. You can read our review of the game here. The partnership between Cie Games and Universal will combine virtual and real-world efforts, including in-game film integration with missions inspired by the movie.

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Playstudios launches Mirage — Free-to-play casino game developer Playstudios today announced it’s adding new content inspired by Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage Hotel & Casino to myVegas. myVegas, which reached three million installs since launch, is a combination of a resource management sim and gambling title with slots and card games, as well as regular mini-games.

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Phyken Media launches Wizard Ops Tactics – Independent game developer Phyken Media announced that it has released Wizard Ops Tactics for iOS and Android devices. Players take on the role of a Wizard Commander as they build a Wizard Army of Ice, Fire, Earth and Air Wizards which can be combined in 140,000 unique ways. The game is free to download from Google Play and the iTunes App Store.

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Zynga adds The Country Fair to FarmVille 2 –  The County Fair will add new content to players at level 20 and above in Zynga’s FarmVille 2. The new weekly event will have players displaying their prized crops and competing with friends. Zynga said on its blog that the The County Fair is a complex feature and that will be slowly rolled out over the coming months.

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Facebook recaps stats about its games ecosystem from GDC 2013 – In a blog post Monday, Facebook’s director of games Sean Ryan recapped some stats about its games ecosystem that were revealed during the 2013 Game Developers Conference. Ryan says more than 250 million users are playing games on Facebook each month, and 82 percent of the top 100 grossing U.S. mobile games and 75 percent of the top 100 grossing U.S. Android mobile games are integrated with Facebook. In 2012, Facebook paid out more than to $2 billion to game developers and saw total payers increase 24 percent year-over-year from March 2012 to March 2013.

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GREE updates NFL Shuffle with new ‘Talents’ feature – Mobile-social gaming giant GREE updated its card-based game NFL Shuffle with a new feature called ‘Talents’ that is aimed at increasing the game’s competitiveness. Users can now utilize an NFL players Talent, a game-changing boost, to increase a card’s scoring potential. Talents come in the form of gameplay enhancements such as additional swaps, and shuffles, offense and defense team bonuses, and Silver and Gold Football Bonuses.

Zynga reveals mobile MOBA game Solstice Arena

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Zynga today revealed its newest core game title, Solstice Arena, a multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices from the A Bit Lucky team.

A Bit Lucky is the developer behind games like Lucky Train and Lucky Space, which were shut down on Facebook in September 2012 while the studio continued to work on Solstice Arena. When Zynga acquired the studio, also in September 2012, A Bit Lucky’s employees became a part of Zynga San Francisco and continued to work on Solstice Arena, though little was known about the game at the time.

Today we finally learned that Solstice Arena is a MOBA game, a genre that originated with the popular mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA) for Blizzard’s PC and Mac strategy game Warcraft 3.

(more…)

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