Traditional retail games, and even console-based downloads may be subject to market changes, but they luckily don't have to contend with the entire marketplace changing, as many of Facebook game developers have had to over the last two months. According to a report published by Inside Social Games, the seemingly innocuous move by the designers of the social media site to recently remove third-party issued notification messages have kept players out of the loop regarding the latest developments in their games, and have kept many away for good. Zynga, in particular, saw a loss of over 10 million users across its top eight games during April, with Farmville losing over four million players, a drop that amounts to a little more than five percent of the game's entire 80 million player audience.
Other major drops over the course of April include MindJolt Games, which saw its 21 million player user base cut by over a third after suffering the month's biggest player loss of near eight million players. The second ranked Facebook game, Birthday Cards, suffered its second straight month of major losses, as it followed up a loss of over seven million players in March with a 5.5 million drop in April.
To put more of a visual focus on Zynga's recent woes, Silicon Alley Insider has produced a graph showing the decrease in users amongst the developer's games, which we've posted below.
Image courtesy Silicon Alley Insider
The changes to Facebook's notification system and the resulting drop isn't the only stick that's seemingly in Zynga's craw. The introduction of Facebook Credits and the cut that the website will take from in-game purchases have reportedly caused anger from Zynga, to the point where the company is preparing to launch its own social game network, which will be called Zynga Live.
It should be interesting to see if Facebook game developers can stop the bleeding during the summer, or if the site will have to step in and keep games popular. Zynga's next move, in particular, could have major ramifications on Facebook, and within the site's top game developers.
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