Social games on Facebook aren’t growing like they once were. Many game publishers are putting their titles out on mobile first, but games on the Facebook Canvas platform still generate $3 billion in revenues a year. And the Facebook platform is a great test bed for titles that will also be adapted to fast-growing mobile platforms, said Dan Morris, the director of game partnerships at Facebook, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“Cookie Jam is a great revenue business, and it’s a really delightful game,” Morris said. “The customer ratings are off the charts.”
Cookie Jam is a colorful “match-3” title that shows the popular genre is still going strong on Facebook. The candy-themed title launched on Facebook’s web platform in May, and it has more than 5 million players now. SGN optimized the title on Facebook and then took it into mobile. That pattern is a familiar recipe for making hits, Morris said.
Morris said Facebook chose the winner based on player ratings, the strength of the Facebook implementation, the growth of the game in players and revenues, and the team’s assessment of the overall quality.
Morris said the list of the best new games (see below) was broad. It includes casual titles like Cookie Jam as well as strategy games like Klondike from Vizor Interactive. Mobile-first games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood are migrating from mobile to Facebook web as well, Morris said.
“Mobile is our friend,” Morris said. “We don’t view this as a zero-sum battle between Facebook’s web platform and mobile. Increasingly, there is a population of game publishers that are operating great businesses on Facebook and mobile.”
He pointed to King, the publisher of Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, as one of those companies that tests games on Facebook in real time without lots of iteration loops with a partner. The company then adapts the optimized game for mobile. Publishers are using Facebook as a social-acquisition channel on mobile.
Morris said more Eastern European and Asian game developers made the list this year as savvy publishers in those regions are expanding worldwide via Facebook. He said that hot categories include casual games, such as Cookie Jam, and social-casino games, such as Old Vegas Slots. Morris said that game is impressive as it looks like an old 8-bit game that the developers stripped down to its “delightful essence.” There are also many high-end 3D-based Unity games such as UberStrike.
Brands such as celebrity Kim Kardashian and Game of Thrones are proving to be popular on Facebook as branded intellectual property is a growing piece of the overall game business. Games with a good sense of humor are also popular, like Cower Defense, where you defend cows from alien predators, Morris said.
“2015 is the year that Facebook really starts developers with the rest of the funnel,” Morris said. “We’ve really disrupted the app-installs space in a helpful way. Publishers tell us every day how important we are to them on the user acquisition side of mobile. In 2015, we’ll begin to demonstrate and quantify the value we can add through the rest of the free-to-play business operations on web or mobile.”
That means Facebook will help with notifications, re-engagement, and optimization of lifetime value based on insights about players.
“These are problems that are yet to be fully solved, and Facebook will make a big dent in that in 2015,” he said.
Facebook also provided some other lists beyond its top games.
Facebook’s 2014 Best New Games:
Bubble Witch 2 Saga (published by King)
Candy Crush Soda Saga (King)
Klondike (Vizor Interactive)
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (Glu)
Old Vegas Slots (DGN Games)
League of Angels (Youzu)
Hero Defense (Shang Game Co.)
Sparta: War of Empires (Plarium)
Facebook’s 2014 Staff Favorite Games:
Solitaire 3 Arena (MavenHut)
Cower Defense (Belka Technologies)
Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores (Glu)
Throne Rush (Nexters)
OMG! Fortune FREE Slots (LuckyFish Games)
Facebook’s 2014 Hall of Fame Games:
Top Eleven Be a Football Manager (Nordeus)
Words With Friends (Zynga)
Zynga Poker (Zynga)
Caesars Casino (Playtika)
Bingo Blitz (Playtika)
Facebook’s 2014 Best Mobile-Only Facebook-Connected Games:
Star Wars: Commander (Disney)
Boom Beach (Supercell)
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff (TinyCo)
Crazy Taxi City Rush (Sega)
Disco Bees (Scopely)