The “Candy Crush Saga” Saga Part 2: Is there a future in gaming on Facebook?

Facebook integration of Candy Crush Saga is doing wonders for the game now, but the future stability of the game’s social media promotion is uncertain.

Candy Crush Saga on Facebook elicits strong feelings for a game about lining up candies. Many people use Facebook to further their progress in the game. Many people hate receiving notifications from the game. Business Insider even published a how-to guide for blocking the game’s notifications.

Despite the protests of some, these notifications are widely used. Two weeks ago, CNET reported that Candy Crush Saga has 132.45 million monthly Facebook-connected users.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that players can connect the game to Facebook to gain more lives or skip the quest stages that slow the process of advancing through the levels. The game automatically gives players one life every half hour (with a maximum of five), so those who run out of lives must stop playing until enough time elapses for them to get another life.

Players can bypass this function by receiving extra lives other players from other players through Facebook (or buying the lives). I see posts on my Facebook feed every day saying one of my friends “gave life” in Candy Crush Saga. How thoughtful.

A few years ago, I saw the same volume of notifications for FarmVille. In July, FarmVille developer Zynga reported its second-quarter financial results, which included a revenue of $213 million and net loss of $15.8 million. In its second quarter of 2012, Zynga reported $332 million. Zynga’s number of daily active users also decreased from 72 million in Q2 2012 to 39 million in Q2 2013.

Zynga pioneered the Facebook-oriented business model that allows players to advance their in-game progress with social interactions and encourages them to compete with Facebook status updates and leaderboards—virtually the same concepts King uses for Candy Crush Saga.

King should be concerned. Zynga’s games are losing 45 percent of their players with a similar business model, which might be a prediction of where Candy Crush Saga is eventually going.

King is preparing to for its hit game’s decline, though.

“All games have a lifespan,” said King’s “game guru” Tommy Palm. “We continue working on other products, and keep working on our recipe to innovate and come up with…concepts that will appeal to the same audience that loves Candy Crush Saga.”

While there is a high likelihood that the gameplay concepts that make Candy Crush Saga so popular can produce another big game (puzzle games are pretty timeless and adaptable to new platforms), the social aspect of Facebook integration might yield diminishing returns.

Reports are conflicting on Facebook’s success this year. In April, The Guardian reported that Facebook was losing users because its market is saturated in the US, the UK and other European countries. In July, on the other hand, Slate reported Facebook’s revenues, clicks and ad prices had increased during its second quarter.

Even if Facebook is not experiencing a lull in its users’ interest, it is still entirely possible for users to simply get bored with certain features of the site, including games.

I joined Facebook in August 2006. For the first couple years I used it, people loved making and joining groups. By now, most groups have been deleted or archived, though the group feature still exists. I remember a time when people liked sending each other virtual gifts and writing “notes.” Those features have since been removed from the site.

What’s keeping Facebook users from getting over games the way they got tired of those features?


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