October 3, 2010

How does Zynga attract Users? Frontierville, Farmville, Mafia Wars, …

Zynga makes extremely popular and addictive social games. With hundreds of millions of users across games and across the Facebook and iPhone platforms, Zynga is one of the largest social games company.

Once a user starts playing a Zynga game, the game mechanics compels the user to continue playing and keep coming back to play more. Zynga is also very good at introducing new games to its userbase - with new games garnering a userbase of millions within weeks.

How does Zynga attract Users?

Zynga does it with addictive game mechanics, leveraging Facebook and constant advertising on Facebook.

The Zynga games all share a common architecture. A few key elements from the games

1. Simple games - simple tasks and simple visuals
    to help large userbases play the game, the tasks have to be simple. Complicated or time-consuming tasks limit the userbase.

2. Help users grow - by providing an endless stream of tasks
 e.g. plant a crop

3. Avoid loss by performing tasks at a fixed time - which keeps user coming back
e.g. a crop that needs to be harvested at a specific time or it withers away

4. Positive feedback to the User at every step
For each task completed, a pat on the back, micro-reward, a creative message

5. Constant change in the game - with and without direct user action
e.g. a crop that grows over time without user action

With creative and changing system messages, unexpected rewards and more

Play the game, let friends know (on Facebook) and get them playing

1. Periodic game messages on users activity feed
    Advertises the game to the friends.

   Constant updates will annoy friends and should be avoided

2. Invite friends to the game
3. Message friends for help
4. Gift game credits to friends
5. In-game friends

Cross-promote games actively in other games

Advertise the game on the social platform (Facebook). This is in addition to the in-game advertising

An endless set of in-game items for the user to purchase, gift and use.

These are in addition to the standard game mechanics of challenges, levels, points, leaderboards, ...