The Sims Social has quickly achieved the mark of 51 million monthly active users and nearly 11 million daily active users. While this puts the game in the second place slot among Facebook games GM of Playfish London John Earner feels confident The Sims Social will eventually be number one.
“It is growing extremely quickly. I think more interestingly than that and a story that I haven’t heard really read clearly enough yet . . . is that this game got over 7 million daily active users without any marketing stunts. Again, we were spending a few dollars here and there just to calibrate, but there was no main full spend in the game. No one has seen that kind of growth ever,” he said. “I have been at Playfish for over 3 years. I was the product manager on our first hit, Pet Society. I was producer on Restaurant City. So I’ve seen the growth of our early games back when Facebook was a relatively high viral environment. Even in those days and even with FarmVille, the growth wasn’t quite like what we’ve seen this time around.”
“On top of the 7 and a half million, we then got to where we’re at right now, which is somewhere between 10.5 and 11 million, depending on your counting. And we got that largely through cross promotion of our Sims title, via our other legacy titles, our Pop Cap titles or the broader Sims community,” he added. “And we’ve begun spending quite a bit of money. But basically, we’ve just hardly burned any of our marketing powder and we’re already sitting about 2 million daily users shy of CityVille.”
When asked about growth, Earner said, “In terms of what’s driving that growth, I think it’s a combination of two basic things. I think the first is it’s an extremely well designed social game that did a good job of finding the balance between what works on Facebook as a platform and what has historically worked for a long storied proud franchise of The Sims, which has had over 100 million installs,” he said. “It’s really easy to have veered in either direction from that path. It would have been very easy for us to make exactly the game that we knew worked on Facebook and in doing so betrayed what the brand is about and what people who have played The Sims the last decade have come to love. And it would have been equally easy for us to have just literally ported what has made The Sims successful onto Facebook. And I think, on our end, as Playfish, there were temptations to do the former. I think, on EA Play’s end, the guys who made the original Sims games, there’s always been temptation to do the latter. And what made this work is both of us working together, teaching one another about our respective strengths, tempering one another’s weaknesses also and becoming better for it. I think this game fairly well navigates those two spectrums of being a good Facebook game and being a good Sims game.”
There is also the strength of the brand name. “We are seeing strong qualitative evidence that we are attracting former Sims players – folks who played Sims 1 and graduated from college and didn’t have time any more, folks who played Sims 2, but maybe that game had gotten too complex for them. We’re seeing a lot of those people showing up,” he noted. “It’s harder to track in the data because that data doesn’t exist within the social graph in the way that perhaps, saying, did you ever play Pet Society We know that number cold. We’ve got over half the people who have played another Playfish game to try The Sims. With the brand stuff, it’s a little bit more qualitative. We’re doing consumer research. But yes, it would appear that we’re seeing a heavy dose of people who were from the franchise coming over.”
“So I think we’re extremely proud. We’re very optimistic. At the same time, we, more than anyone, have learned how to be humble in the last two years. We had to relearn a lot of things. Zynga’s enjoyed great success in a lot of ways, but we have not been sitting on our thumbs. We’ve been learning. We’ve been growing. And the last year has been spent focused on this game and I think we’ve now proven to the market that we’ve learned what we need to learn to take on Zynga,” concluded Earner.