Facebook is announcing its Games of the Year, and this represents a good time to check in on the health of the social game market. The massive boom in social gaming some years ago astounded many people, as did the rapid leveling off of the social game market as Facebook’s growth plateaued along with other factors. Many of the social game companies switched their attention to the rapidly growing mobile market, which is where most of the former social game giants (those that are left, anyway) now derive the majority of their revenues.
Facebook has roughly 1.35 billion monthly active users (MAU) as of October, and the service is still growing, albeit more slowly than in the past. There are about 152 million daily active users (DAU) between the USA and Canada. Back in March, Facebook announced that roughly a quarter of all its active users — 375 million people — play at least one Facebook-connected game in an average month. They generate some 735 million of game referrals that are sent out each day.
There’s a clear financial benefit to having a game that appears both on Facebook and on another platform, such as a mobile device. Facebook’s figures show that the average user who plays the same game on two or more platforms spends 3.3 times as much money on in-game purchases as someone who only plays the game on Facebook. Cross-platform players are also far more likely to click on ads, and show other signs of engagement with the game.
That’s why you’ll see companies like King Digital continuing to release new games on Facebook, and continue to connect those games to their mobile counterparts. If you have the development resource for it, and it makes sense gameplay-wise, it’s a profitable use of a publisher’s time. So as you look at Facebook’s list of the top games of the year, keep that in mind.
Yes, the social game market may be growing slowly compared to the rocketing field of mobile games, but there’s still billions of dollars in revenue being generated by social games. That’s not a platform to ignore if you’ve got the right game for it.
Facebook’s Games of the Year
Like other platforms, Facebook is looking back over the year right now to showcase the top titles for 2014. The company noted some trends in its blog post on the subject. “2014 saw a revival of the classic match-3 puzzle genre and the continued health of the social casino category,” Facebook posted. “New game launches from Asia and Europe continue to grow, bringing both new ideas and cherished, recognizable brands to the Facebook platform.”
Of course, as with any such list, the selection criteria are important to note. “The games on these lists were selected based on player ratings, strength of Facebook implementation, growth, and overall quality,” Facebook noted. “Although we’ve singled out one new game that stands above the rest as the Game of the Year, the games listed in the other categories are not listed in any particular order. Best New Games represent the remaining nine (Cookie Jam leading the list to make ten) cream-of-the-crop that came out in 2014, while Best Mobile Games showcase top-notch mobile apps that effectively use Facebook Login. Back by popular demand, the Staff Favorites list features games most played around our office, while Hall of Fame recognizes games that launched prior to 2014.”
Facebook also noted that the company is working on new ways to help people find games on the platform. “Our goal is to make it easier for every player to find the games that interest them, and to keep them coming back to those games for fun and engaging experiences,” said Facebook. “We’re adding some new features to Facebook Games to help people find games, such as a Hot Games list and genre Tags.” The Hot Games list shows which games are quickly growing in popularity on Facebook, while the Tags should help people filter and search by different characteristics like genre, player mode, and release date to find games they are most interested in playing. Tags are shown on the App Detail Page as well as called out in a gray tag below each game within Facebook Games.
Facebook 2014 Games of the Year Winners
Facebook’s 2014 Best New Games
- Cookie Jam (SGN) – Game of the YearThis colorful matching game proved that the genre is far from over for Facebook. Launching in May, and rising to well over 5 million players in only a matter of months, SGN’s sweets-themed title swept all others to become our game of the year.
- Bubble Witch 2 Saga (King)This was a year of successful sequels for King, starting off with an improvement on their classic bubble shooter, Bubble Witch Saga.
- Candy Crush Soda Saga (King)King’s second sequel of the year takes Candy Crush Saga to the next level with dynamic, goal-driven matching designed to rescue gummy candies from drowning in the titular soda.
- Klondike (Vizor Interactive LLP)This story-driven city builder game sends players on a quest to rescue a lost gold-digger in a mountainous land.
- Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (Glu)A runaway mobile game success starring one of Hollywood’s hottest stars makes a splash on Facebook among more than a million players in just four weeks.
- Old Vegas Slots (DGN Games)This solid slots title from DGN Games cleans up on Facebook and mobile.
- League of Angels (Youzu)A stylish role-playing game featuring full-fleshed character classes and instantly-familiar gameplay mechanics. This is a great example of an eastern developed game that has successfully captured a western audience via Facebook.
- Hero Defense (Shang Game Co)Tower defense games have lasting appeal for Facebook players and this game takes it to the next level with a mix of adorable character designs for the various units.
- SuperCity (Playkot)Proving city-builders are far from over, this is a highly-engaging experience for fans of the genre.
- Sparta: War of Empires (Plarium)Another successful title from a leader in the strategy genre, Sparta builds on the success of previous titles Stormfall: Age of War and Soldiers Inc. in an antiquity-themed game.
Facebook’s 2014 Staff Favorite Games
- Solitaire 3 Arena (MavenHut)A three-round tournament style solitaire game.
- Cower Defense (Belka Technologies)A pun-driven tower defense title.
- Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores (Glu)A first-person shooter, aimed at dinosaurs.
- Throne Rush (Nexters)A solid entry in the strategy category on Facebook.
- OMG! Fortune FREE Slots (LuckyFish Games)A slots game with slick graphics.
Facebook ‘s 2014 Hall of Fame Games
- Top Eleven Be a Football Manager (Nordeus)One of the first football management sims on Facebook, and still one of the longest-running.
- Words With Friends (Zynga)This Scrabble-inspired word game relaunched this year to a whole new audience.
- Zynga Poker (Zynga)Formerly known as Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, this is one of the oldest games on Facebook and it still draws a crowd.
- Caesars Casino (Playtika)This casino game was the first to launch after Caesar’s Interactive acquired Facebook game developer Playtika, and it’s still going strong.
- Bingo Blitz (Playtika)Acquired by Caesar’s Interactive some years back, this bingo game has staying power on our platform.
Facebook’s 2014 Best Mobile-Only Facebook-Connected Games
- Star Wars: Commander (Disney)A strategy game set in the Star Wars universe between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
- Boom Beach (Supercell)Supercell’s second entry into the strategy category features a lush jungle setting.
- Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff (TinyCo)This licensed IP game lets players recreate Quahog with familiar characters and buildings from the show.
- Crazy Taxi City Rush (Sega)The latest in the famed racing game series lets players swerve to avoid obstacles rather than drive the cab directly.
- Disco Bees (Scopely)An adorable match-3 driven by competition with Facebook breaks on the leader boards.