A recent study published by mobile analytic provider Flurry revealed a depressing metaphor: the quick burnout that follows the rise of a popular social game is comparable to the fleetingness of youth. One day you’re burning bright, then the next you’re a doddering old relic forgotten in the corner of Shady Pines Rest Home. Tragic stuff, but the report outlines why Zynga should have seen the fall of Draw Something from a mile away.
According to Flurry’s study, people enjoy playing social games for a time, but the burnout rate is incredibly high. Flurry likened a social game’s quick lifespan with that of a mobile dating app. ‘For most people, we can assume that finding a long-term ‘˜significant other’ is the ultimate goal of dating. As a result, the app maker should expect customer churn. While usage may be high during the time when a consumer looks for a suitable partner, once that person is found, usage stops.’
Users reportedly get tired of social game apps in three months or less. In a sample of apps used 1.7 billion times per week, Flurry discovered that people’s interest runs red-hot at first, and they play a new social game app about 7.9 times per week on average. But then there’s a major dropoff: one month later, 47% of players are still interested in the app, then 34% after 60 days, and then 29% after 90 days.
Zynga learned these numbers the hard way. After it acquired Draw Something, the active user base quickly dropped from 15 million to 10 million. Now, it has about 2 million users, and Zynga stands to be out $100 million on its investment.
When you put all this together, it becomes clear that social games will probably endure as a genre– but long-term investment in social games is unwise at best.