Zynga-The game studio specializing in making games for social networking sites has recently secured a funding of $15 million in venture capital. The company has been on a roll ever since it introduced games for Facebook. What started with Mafia wars turned into a rage with its another sticky offering- Farmville. To gauge an idea of the popularity of the game, FarmVille application boasts of a mind boggling 65,387,640 monthly active users.
Mind you , this is not the first time that Zynga has secured a big ticket funding. They raised $29 million during 2008 and the total funding according to Crunchbase stands at $54 million. To me, that looks like loads of cash for a gaming company. Zynga seems to have stumbled upon a cash cow with its association with Facebook and enticing users to play it games.
What is interesting to note here is the revenue model which has taken a lot of flak during recent times and one of its new game Fishville was taken off for this very reason. Â The gaming apps lure the users to sign up forÂ confusing offers and misleading advertisements in lieu of virtual cash and rewards.Even with all the skepticism surrounding the revenue model , Zynga is definitely doing good to attract a lot of venture capital.
To put things into perspective, Internet Gaming in general is a seemingly a brilliant business idea. Everyone likes to have a little fun and the best part about games of any sort is the sense of competition they create. This in itself leads to a word-of-mouth publicity and creates the Viral factor for the product. However, not all gaming portals click and from my experience playing Farmville (yes, I am a culprit too) , it is the stickiness and the recall factor that seems to be working for Zynga .The games are no brainer and extremely simple to play is another factor which help them go viral.
Here are some of the striking features that Zynga games have in common
- All have a Neighborhood concept making the user invite others to create a community kind of thing.There are obvious rewards on offer for having more neighbors and this leads to automatic promotion of the game and more and more users signing up
- All the games keep up the Recall factor with handy notifications.If you have played Farmville , you would have noticed every single activity that happens with your farm. Eg: If someone helps you the farm , if someone adds you as a neighbor etc.
- They keep the Stickiness factor by constantly coming up with the so called Mystery elements at regular intervals.The additions are very minor but they are big on the surprise and uniqueness factor.
These are some of the aspects I discovered during the time I spent playing Farmville. The question that got triggered in my mind is ,
Can non-gaming products take a lesson from these apps and work on the Stickiness and Recall Quotient
I have encountered innumerable start-ups that start with a bang and a lot of offering during their betas , but then stop offering new value additions.A few internet based forums/apps miss out on increasing the recall factor by not creating any notification mechanisms.
Games like Farmville and Mafia wars may not be high on the intellectual aspect but then they do offer a lot of fine learning points to analyze and absorb in other areas.
Do you think Gaming apps will continue to attract the user and the Venture Capitalists alike? Zynga sure seems to be doing it just right