Sequels can be risky business for embattled social game developer Zynga. They can extend the lifespan of a popular franchise like Farmville. But they also siphon away players from the original game.
So if a sequel doesn’t retain players well, it can cannibalize the player base for both the original and the follow-up like with Mafia Wars and Mafia Wars 2, which the company shut down just days ago.
But Farmville 2, with its 3D graphics, has managed to stay atop the charts since it was released late last fall. The game is really the one standout sequel in Zynga’s recent line of follow-ups including Cityville 2, which has dramatically lost traffic over the past several weeks.
Zynga just released some engagement stats today about the performance of Farmville 2. To underscore how big a risk Farmville 2 is for the company, the original game has been one of the top money makers for the company since it was launched in 2009. Even three years later, it made 20 percent of Zynga’s $285.6 million in online gaming revenue in the third quarter of last year. That’s $57 million in one quarter alone or more than a half-million dollars a day. The company was super careful with its prize possession, even testing it under the name of Big Harvest in the Philippines before launch. All eyes will be on Zynga’s next earnings call, when the company will reveal how well this sequel has performed financially.
Farmville 2 currently has 42.4 million monthly active users, 7.4 million daily active users and a healthy stickiness ratio of daily-to-monthly active users at 17.5 percent, according to tracking site AppData. It appears to have peaked though, and has lost about 700,000 daily active users in the last seven days, according to the service.
That’s not necessarily something to be alarmed about though, because most social games peak early on and then decline while retaining the most lucrative players or “whales.” Even if active usage declines overall, revenues can still increase from a good title for months or years to come. The original Farmville was around for about eight months before it peaked in monthly active usage, but that was before Zynga had amassed its network of players on the Facebook platform.