Is Playfish the 'million dollar a month' facebook developer?

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Recently the Facebook watching blog AllFacebook claimed:

There’s a pretty well known secret among top Facebook application developers: one developer is generating over $1 million a month. Who is that developer exactly? Well, most people won’t talk about it and after some prodding around we’ve narrowed down the suspects. We aren’t going to post them though because ultimately it doesn’t matter who the individual is.

TechCrunch speculated that potentially this might apply to Offerpal Media, a lead generation network for Facebook apps that gives users a way to earn virtual currency by looking at an ad and completing an action (such as filling out a registration form) with average CPMs of $75 and some as high as $200. That means that a publisher which ties its virtual currency to Offerpal could potentially earn up to $1 million a month with a single app. So far 80 percent of the top 25 apps on Facebook are using Offerpal.

One of them is Friends For Sale! which lets you “buy and sell your friends as pets” and includes a virtual gift shop as well. Another contender for the million-dollar app is Mob Wars (2.5 million active monthly users) as VentureBeat explains.

But now there are whispers that it might be yet another application developer.

Gaming publisher Playfish has the impressive Facebook games: Who Has The Biggest Brain?, Word Challenge, and Bowling Buddies.

The London-based startup (which has studios in Norway and Beijing) is funded by $3 million in angel financing with a $1 million bridge from Accel. They have given their games a look and feel similar to the Wii games, especially Bowling Buddies. Playfish currently claims about 6 million monthly users across its games, playing an average of 30 minutes a session, which have gone highly viral. Playfish games now regularly feature in the top ten gaming apps on Facebook, totaling around 1 million daily active users. The others are are SGN, Zynga, and Serious Business.

Playfish is monetising gamers at different points. People who play the basic game see video advertising, while others can pay for upgrades and premium games. Recently they released a $10 paid upgrade for “Who has the Biggest Brain?” (which has also been translated into six languages).

I put it to co-founder Kristian Segerstrale that Playfish might be the “million dollar a month” Facebook application developer.

He said: “We don’t really comment on our revenue numbers… I’m happy with how we’re doing. But more importantly I think our experience so far shows a lot of promise in how we can reach a completely new audience for games and let people play together in ways they’ve never played before. Monetization is in its infancy but we’re all learning and I think you’ll see a lot of innovation and experimentation in this area moving forward. Social gaming is a very hyped area currently and there will be challenges ahead for sure, but I think the fundamentally new gaming behaviours we’re creating today will make a profound impact on the $50Bn games industry over time. And it’s that more than today’s numbers is what makes me excited about it all.”

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