Social gaming has conquered a better fraction of the internet population. Even Facebook (the largest online social network on the planet) has social games to thank for their staggering popularity. To better expound the impact of social games on internet culture, let’s get down to the figures.
Twenty percent of the US population has played a game on a social network site, and 35 percent of them have never played any other kinds of video games in the past. In 2012, it is expected that there will be 68.7 million (about the size of Iran) Americans playing social games. 50 percent of Facebook visitors fritter away their time on social games, and among these social games , CityVille tops the chart with 90 million active users per month, followed by Farmville and Texas Holdem Poker with 43 million and 35 million active users per month respectively. One in every five Americans over the age of six has played an online social game at least once.
Gender-wise, women show a slight dominance on social games over men. Fifty-five percent of social gamers are women while males attribute for 45 percent the market. Thirty-eight percent of these women play multiple times a day, while only 29 percent of men do; 68 percent of women play with people they know, while there’s only 56 percent of men that do the same. And only 33 percent of women play with strangers, while 41 percent of males do the same (highlighting women’s slightly increased cautiousness on anonymity than men).
Lucky for social game developers and advertisers, social games are becoming a huge revenue driver. Users in North America spend an average of $74 on social games in 4 months. Virtual goods generate the most income over other means of social game monetization, earning $510 million in 2010, $653 million in 2011, and $792 million in 2012; followed by lead generation, raking in $225 million 2010, $248 in 2011 and $260 million in 2012; and finally, advertising with $120 million in 2010, $192 million in 2011 and $271 million in 2012.
In fact, 90 percent of Zynga’s income comes from virtual goods. And 1 in every 5 Facebook users play Farmville, outnumbering real US farmers by a ratio of 80 is to 1. Even real-life farmers themselves play Farmville. That explains why Facebook is the hotspot among the hotspots in the virtual gaming world, garnering more time spent on its games than Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon combined.
The biggest players in the social gaming industry are Disney , acquiring Playdom for $763.2 million; EA Games acquiring Playfish for 400 million; and of course, Zynga which recently established a partnership with Lady Gaga, as well as bought DNA Games. Zynga, being the developer firm behind Facebook’s most massive social games, has received a total of 436 complaints from the Better Business Bureau in the last 36 months. Shall I say, way too much?? Popularity has it’s price. And let’s not forget about the mobile social games arena. Developer Storm8 boasted 210 million downloads across iOS and Android.