After losing 3.1mm Monthly Active Users (MAUs) across its vast Facebook gaming empire two week ago, Zynga’s MAU decline accelerated last week with the loss of 4.2mm more MAUs.
While Treasure Isle continued its growth, the growth curve flattened significantly, adding 1.6mm MAUs last week after gaining an average of 6.6mm the previous three weeks. Every other major Zynga title lost users last week, with Farmville (-600k), Texas Hold ‘Em (-600k), CafeWorld (-700k), Mafia Wars (-300k) Fishville (-600k) and YoVille (-500k) combining to lose over 3.8mm MAUs. On a positive note, the losses from the six losing major titles decelerated from the previous week, when they combined for a total loss of 6.5mm MAUs. The weekly loss totaled 1.7% of Zynga’s total MAUs, which now stands at 244mm, still dwarfing its competitors, the next ten which combine to total only 215mm total MAUs.
The second straight week of MAU losses comes on the heels of reports that Zynga is readying for a major battle with Facebook given the rise of Facebook Credits and its 30% fee structure, as well as Facebook’s elimination of notifications and Facebook’s pending Gift Request changes. While Facebook’s changes in communications cuts down on the noise in users newsfeed, the elimination of the free communications/advertising is forcing the gaming companies to increase their advertising to drive usage. As a result of these changes, Zynga appears increasingly focused on lessening its dependence on the Facebook platform.
While Zynga MAU loss accelerated last week, every other major developer but Playdom (which added a modest 300k MAUs last week) also lost MAUs last week, and Zynga’s share of the total MAUs of the top 11 game developers actually increased last week from 53.1% to 53.2%. So if Zynga’s players aren’t leaving Zynga for the other major gaming providers, where are they going?
The lost gamers are either doing other things than playing games on Facebook, like taking advantage of better weather in the seasonally slower spring and summer months for gaming, or playing the games of smaller developers. Among the many risks we highlighted in our original Zynga report was the risk of “branded” games coming to Facebook that come with a built in audience given the strength of the brand. Case in point is the recent rise of the Family Feud game introduced in to the Facebook ecosystem just two months ago. Family Feud grew its MAUs base by 700k last week to pass 4mm total MAUs. While Family Feud doesn’t appear poised to enter the pantheon of top 10 Facebook games, where 17mm MAUs is required, the deluge of new gaming companies introducing games on the Facebook platform, including those with branded games, are likely to be increasingly meaningful in the Facebook gaming ecosystem. All that said, we always caution readers to not read too much in to the weekly gyrations of MAUs, but rather use them as context over longer periods to divine the trends that will be meaningful in the long run.