Matt Wyndowe explores the growing arcade game scene on the social networking site
[This article originally appeared on the Facebook developer blog, which can be found here.]
A classic game category that has been played by diverse audiences over the years, arcade games such as Bejeweled Blitz, Fruit Ninja Frenzy, and Diamond Dash have been picking up momentum on Facebook Platform lately. Whether on mobile or desktop, these short-session games use a variety of tactics to keep people coming back week after week and to encourage friendly competition.
In our research, people who play arcade games do so because the games are quick and easy to play and are a fun way to compete and socialize with friends. In fact, arcade games are among the most highly rated games on Facebook.
As a result, these games have seen steady growth in active users month after month. For example, two of the most played arcade games on Facebook, Diamond Dash and Bubble Witch Saga, have seen nearly 10% growth or more in daily active users in the last five months, with Bubble Witch recently crossing the 5 million daily active users milestone and Diamond Dash not far behind.
Let’s take a look at some of the techniques that arcade games use to achieve steady growth and high engagement on Facebook.
Healthy competition among friends is a great way to motivate action. Zuma Blitz and Bubble Island show a person's friends in the game either with an in-game leader board or a story map that shows other friends’ progress. People are motivated to play more to catch up to their friends' scores or level advancement. Including an "invite" button on or close to the leader board, as Zuma Blitz does, reminds people to invite more of their friends to compete.
Zuma Blitz (top) uses the classic leader board; whereas Bubble Island's (bottom) is part of a story map.
Leader boards are even more impactful when they offer people a way to brag about their accomplishments. For example, if a person passes one of her friends, Bubble Witch Saga uses the feed dialogue to prompt the player to brag. This post then appears on the friend's timeline.
Bubble Witch Saga prompts the person to share when she passes a friend (left) and the message appears on that friend's timeline (right).
Many arcade games, such as Bejeweled Blitz and Diamond Dash, use weekly tournaments to keep people coming back each week. This lightweight competition is compelling and draws players back to the game to beat their friends.
|Diamond Dash keeps people coming back with a tournament.|
Arcade games typically use a scarce resource--such as energy or life--to gate game play. Players can either buy resources or ask their friends via requests. This creates a highly social environment where friends compete against each other, but also rely on each other’s gifts of more “lives” to keep playing. Gifting is highly social in nature; gifting a life inspires a gift in return, which fuels the cycle of giving and prompts interaction and engagement among friends.
Make gifting lives even easier to do by using frictionless requests, which eliminates the request dialog pop-up after a user has checked the "do not ask again" box.
|Collapse Blast uses frictionless requests to gift lives among players.|
|The heart icon reminds people to send a life in Collapse Blast.|