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Social Games: Profitable Business

Friday, 18 Jul 2014

A social game is one of the most fun and simple way to play with your social-network friends. These games usually use network’s social connections and communication APIs.

"A social game is a type of online game that is played through social networks, and typically features multiplayer and asynchronous gameplay mechanics. Social network games are most often implemented as browser games, but can also be implemented on other platforms such as mobile devices" - this definition gives us Wikipedia.

Social games have several characteristics as follows:

  • Asynchronous gameplay which allows rules to be resolved there is no need in simultaneous playing;
  • Community development which promotes interaction with friends;
  • Most free. Usually these games are free to play, but purchase of game elements, capabilities or products may cost real-world money;
  • Have some kind of virtual currency. Social games use "virtual currency", which players usually should purchase for real money.

Due to the combination of two main ingredients for success ─ exciting game and social image, social games are the perfect cocktail to escalate your business. That is why social games are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the entertainment market today.

Meanwhile, a properly designed game which cost is from $ 10 000 to $ 250 000 with exciting gameplay can bring over $ 1 million revenue per month. There are many examples of such games, e.g. on Facebook.com:

ImageNameDescriptionMonthly active usersDeveloperAnnual Revenue, million
Social gameCityVilleCityVille is addictive game on Facebook, which gives you a possibility to create a perfect city. CityVille became available as a game on Google+ late September 2011.51 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameThe Sims SocialNew game 2011. The game is all about house building and decorating and looking after your sim’s basic needs. It’s very similar to Sims gameplay.32 millionEA Games$82 - $163
Social gameFarmVilleThe virtual farming game, which gives you virtual experience of a farm. You can earn virtual money for which you can buy, or help unlock new levels with better crops.31 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameTexas HoldEm PokerThe game gives you not only a chance to enhance your skills, but also enjoy the game in a fun and exciting way. You can join tournament any time and invite30 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameEmpires & AlliesThe game is about mysterious known as The Raven who has assembled powerful forces and used them to devastate your nation.19 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameMafia Wars 2In Mafia Wars the gamers play as gangsters building their own mafia. The players fight other players online and complete tasks to gain rewards and strength in the game.16 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameGardens of TimeAs the name indicates, there is a garden of History and your job is to protect and preserve it by joining as a potential new recruit for the Time Society – a group that travels back and forth through time, exploring important moments in history.11 millionPlaydomTBD
Social gameWords with FriendsPlayers can take turns building words crossword puzzle style with one or more friends or with random opponents. This game is available for Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) devices.11 millionZynga$600 from all Facebook games
Social gameDiamond DashIt is match-3 funny and very addictive game. Your job is to clear away groups of three or more blocks, which are displayed on your screen. Clearing the boxes can be done by simply clicking on them.11 millionWoogaabout $80 from all Facebook games
Social gameBubble IslandThis classic arcade game is about popping colorful bubbles to discover the secrets behind them. The game features two basic takes on the type of match-3 gameplay where you shoot colored spheres up at a wall of colored round objects that slowly descends toward you.10 millionWoogaabout $80 from all Facebook games
Social gamePet SocietyIt is a 2D virtual pet simulation game. Players enter a virtual pet town where adorable creatures live and play. And all you have to do is to raise a virtual pet. The game also allows you to raise multiple pets under one roof.6.7 millionTBD

Secrets of Social games Success

Popularity and Versatility

The main area of social games distribution is social networks, which are super-popular and profitable at the moment.

Social games are universal tools for business because they can be used for the following:

  • Getting profit (from selling in-game items);
  • Effective advertising or promotion of your brand;
  • Increase of your company popularity;
  • To promote the game and its further porting to mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, WP7 devices).

The social component

Due to deep social games integration to the social network services it is possible to invite friends to play, and display the player's achievements on his or hers wall and share players’ in-game achievements. This becomes crucial for all social-network friends joining the game. The possibility to share in-game items and to form in-game groups and clans allows build gaming community for partners.

Simplicity and fascination

In social games people mostly look for quick and simple entertainment. This is one of the key elements of social game, which should be simple, load quickly and allow you to navigate it easily. Additionally, the game should have fun gameplay allowing to achieve certain progress.

Thus, successful social game should always satisfy the following rules:

  • To be colorful and unique;
  • To have simple and addictive gameplay;
  • Aimed on game social component increase.

Permanent game development

Social play is not just a game, but it is non-stop business. In this case the game development is just the first step. After starting the game should constantly evolve in order to be successful.

Targeting your audience

Women are a part of users that can form the core of your audience. Don’t think that only men are addicted to games, in fact, a housewife, student, wife and firm employee with a lot of free time are often those who spend a lot of time in social games. 

Using the methods of players holding Daily bonuses

Many games use daily bonuses. Through this simple trick it is possible to increase the parameter DAU (Daily Active Users) by several times.

Pretty little creatures and aesthetics

People love all nice and attractive, especially to save pretty little animal. GameDuell succeeded in doubling number of their games visits offered by introducing "fluffy small animals".

Scheduled events

"After 6 hours a skilled master, who is able to assist you in Temple building will appear in your town." Such appointed events are common in social games, and of course they make people to play again and again to take advantage of such "gifts". Games like "Farm" use that mechanics. And players should periodically "weed vegetable gardens" and check whether nothing was stolen.


Before performing the tasks the players should be able to increase their character’s strength (for in-game virtual currency or real money) to perform the quest with the greatest potential. Examples are various buff potions like "20% increased magic damage". Amplifiers should be absorbed (i.e. spent when used) and run out of time (or lose their effect).

Limited resources

This trick relates to all actions that player can perform for a game session. The amount of energy, gold and other resources necessary for the development are consciously limited. The player can either wait to fill them or purchase additional resources in the store.

Achievements and Quests

There are many different types of the achievements and quests in social games. And the rewards and achievements for quest passing are the most satisfactory for users. Game awards strategy is very effective like fulfill the quest and get bonus items.

Interaction with neighbors

Visit / invite your friends and get bonus Hearts, Coins and Experience. Heart defines your "reputation", which determines the amount of bonuses that you and your friends will get, if you continue to help each other. This approach is a variant of viral involvement of people in the game (transmitted from person to person).


Other powerful tools for viral attracting of new players are the teams and groups of friends. In games such as "Restaurant", you can hire your friends "at work", which will save you money, and your friends give you some bonuses. Team usage is correctly implemented in Mafia Wars game, where each new member of your team gives certain advantage, stimulating the search for new members.


The simplest and most intuitive way to increase game monetization is to provide temporary offers, discounts, events etc. Such approach could be easily implemented to any virtual goods sale model. Different sale strategy like “Buy now and save 20%” or “Buy 2 for the price of one” can increase inflow of money up to 20%.
Also it’s useful to arrange festive discounts or other discounts limited by time or number of goods. Such events stimulate to purchase even those people who would never buy in usual conditions. One rule you should remember is that limited number of goods should really be limited and temporary offers should expire.

What We Offer

  • Generation of Social Game original idea;
  • Social Game business plan and business requirements professional analysis;
  • Captivating gameplay development;
  • Players involvement methods development and existing users interest maintaining;
  • Professional Social Games optimization and maintenance.

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Stuart Lewis-Smith

GSN Games is completely satisfied with Program-Ace's technical expertise and the quality of services they provide. We look forward to collaborating with Program-Ace again...

Stuart Lewis-Smith, Senior VP and General Manager, GSN Games
Scott Zerby

Program-Ace has completely dispelled my concerns. The online project management system is one of the best I have seen...

– Scott Zerby, Vice President at ValuSoft
Tim Ransom

If you're looking for a professional, dedicated, digital development partner, I highly recommend Program-Ace...

– Tim Ransom, President at Visual Thunder Media
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