As EA bows out, Facebook says games are strong as ever

Electronic Arts made the big decision earlier this week to back away from social games on Facebook. Today, Facebook shared some stats to allay fears that the sky is falling on the social network.
Electronic Arts made the big decision earlier this week to back away from social games on Facebook, stating that "the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off" from its Facebook games. But do EA's numbers reflect the Facebook social game sector as a whole, or is there still space for developers to make some real money on Facebook? Facebook's technology communications manager Tera Randall shared some stats with me today, to allay fears that the sky is falling on the social network -- she claims that Facebook has more players, and the potential for monetization, than ever. Web game installs on Facebook are up 75 percent compared to this time last year, she says, while as of March more than 250 million Facebook users are currently playing games on the social network each month, up from 235 million last October. This figure represents 20 percent of all daily Facebook users, she notes. And these users are now more willing to put money down for in-app purchases in Facebook games -- year-over-year growth of the total number of payers on Facebook has increased 24 percent. More than $2 billion was paid out to game developers during 2012, according to Facebook, while a good portion of Facebook's top developers generated record revenue last year. More than 100 developers on Facebook generated $1 million+ each alone.

Facebook on mobile

Although Facebook is having a hard time of translating its games platform to mobile, Randall's figures state that integration of Facebook into mobile games is still chugging along nicely. For example, more than 55 percent of the top 400 grossing iOS apps, most of which are games, are integrated into Facebook. In fact, Facebook drove more than 263 million clicks to iOS and Android games during March. Notably, the popularity of King's popular web and mobile game Candy Crush Saga, which has previously been the number one most played game on both Facebook and iOS, is down to the level of engagement that those users who play on both platforms show, says the company.

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