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Social gaming is the driving force behind the billion-dollar virtual currency market. Popular social games on Facebook such as Farmville and Mafia Wars have turned startups like Zynga into IPO candidates, and have led to an ecosystem of companies that have come up with alternative ways for consumers to pay for digital goods online.
But for social game developers, building social games that have staying popular looks like it may be a challenge. As reported by Inside Social Games, the past two months have been particularly difficult for some of Facebook's most popular games. In April, over half of the top 25 games, as tracked by Inside Social Games, lost users. And the drops intensified this past month.
Facebook has sat by and watched as prominent application developers
have made millions upon millions of dollars on its platform, primarily
through virtual currency. Not surprisingly, Facebook wants a piece of
the action and is moving to take a piece of the action.
But that may not be so easy if the results of early deal making efforts are any indication. Application developer Zynga, which operates some of the most popular social gaming apps on Facebook, including Farmville and Mafia Wars, may leave Facebook and set up its own gaming social network after negotiations with Facebook over the use of Facebook's upcoming universal payments and credits system reportedly fell apart.
Despite the controversy over the use of CPA offers in the virtual goods market, the business of offers continues to grow.
In an effort to innovate and differentiate itself, relative newcomer gWallet is combining offers with online video. With success, it claims.
The app economy generates big bucks for Facebook's most prolific developers. Thanks in large part to virtual goods, the companies which develop some of Facebook's most popular apps are reportedly pulling in over $100m/year individually.
But what's good for Facebook's app developers isn't necessarily good for Facebook's users. App developers are understandably willing to go as far as Facebook will allow them to in their quest to acquire more users and generate more revenue.
If you had to guess what the most popular Facebook app on Facebook is, chances are you're not thinking that it has anything to do with fruits, vegetables and cows. But you'd be very wrong. What is the most popular app on Facebook? FarmVille.
As the name suggests, FarmVille is a game that gives users the ability to "grow delicious fruits and vegetables and raise adorable animals" on their own virtual farms. With nearly 35m active monthly users and 12m active daily users, FarmVille has just about grown itself into the most popular Facebook application ever. When FarmVille surpasses 35,554,755 active monthly users, it will surpass the record set by the How Well Do You Know Me? application.
As social media grows more and more prominent and social media services like Twitter attract more and more mainstream attention, it's worth keeping a hefty dose of perspective and reminding ourselves that throwing 'social' in front of a business doesn't guarantee success.
That's exactly what UK-based startup Pikum tried to do with its 'social gaming' service that tried to put a social twist on betting.