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Great article!

But this doesn't really work:
'# The average game makes $1 per MAU per month in revenue
# Another way of saying that is that the average game makes $0.03 per DAU per day'

So take FarmVille: with 56M MAU, you're saying Zynga pulls in around $56M per month.
But if you take $0.03/DAU/day (the so called DARPU), this works out 16M*$0.03*30days= $14.4M

I think the latter is more realistic.



Nice catch.
You're right, my maths is off.

Typically what you'd expect is somewhere around 2% of the users in any given month spending $5 on a virtual good purchase (a very broad generalisation to be sure). That works out to $0.25 per MAU, not $1.

The funny part is you will hear estimates as wildly varying as that though. In the earlier days of social games, the prevailing wisdom held that the percentage of paying users in a month was 5% or so (which is where the vague dollar estimates come from) but more forecasters expect around 2% these days.



Excellent series, thanks for sharing!

I appreciate the work gone into the detailed analysis. While I'm working in social games myself, I also like a lot that you write in a way that everyone can understand.

Interesting to see how much more the game has grown since you released the article! Would you revise some of your observations, now that CV is twice as big as you thought I'd become?




Thanks Robert!

I plan to do a follow up in a couple of weeks examining where it's at. I think it's not really settled yet, so any results we're seeing out of it are still very much in flux.



Great article and wanted to ask about one payment mechanic that you didn't comment on.

Mobile - As developers are in the main targetting US and/or Western European consumers, the main aim for getting consumers to pay to play is reaching into their wallets and purses.
However, with mobile could the payment process have less friction? This could be the start of a payment "funnel" that ends with the mobile payer having already invested (albeit smaller amounts) and therefore being more relaxed about reaching into their wallet - for the larger "whale-esque" purchases.

This all comes from researching the "granddaddy" of social games, Wild Tangent that funneled consumers from ad's (almost no friction), to mobile (a bit more friction but hell i've played for weeks) and then to credit card (i'm hooked).

I know from research and anecdotal conversation that anything up to 20-25% of players of any game pay by mobile -
1. credit disenfranchised - kids
(see Runescape) and those genuinely without credit/debit cards
2. Those players in countries with lower percentages ownership of cards
3. impulse purchases for convenience of lower end buys (upto £5-£10) as we always have our mobile close to hand... in case we get a call/email/text..

And apologies for all the brackets :)


Hi Rob,

Mobile could always have less friction. The principle problem quoted about mobile again and again from developers is the percentage that most operators want from each transaction (40+%) which makes supporting mobile payments a disincentive for many. While that % remains, developers are always going to want to move customers into more advantageous payment platforms.



Note that, at least in North America, Facebook Credits *does* provide an offer wall. When you the Facebook Credits purchase dialog appears (in any game), you can click a "Show more purchase options" link on the page, and one of the options will be "Earn for free by shopping". Choosing this option will expand the dialog to a larger size, and show offers that can complete (including free surveys, purchasing from online stores, etc). Facebook partnered with TrialPay to provide the offers.


superb. I haven't seen this level of detail (or insight) regarding FB Game dynamics anywhere on the Web or print media.


thanks for sharing your thoughts about social gaming mechanics

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