For a refresher, back in March, Facebook nixed the ability for Facebook application developers (both game developers and otherwise) to send notifications to users. Now, the notification system is reserved solely for status message updates, photo comments and the like.
There seems to be a large split in the community between those who appreciated the reduction in what some could call “spam,” and between those who have now felt alienated from receiving news about their favorite games, especially if they’ve yet to sign up for email updates from those games, with email newsletters being the easiest method by which developers can now get their news across.
Furthermore, news feeds were cut shortly thereafter, to minimize the “wall-o-game-news” plight many were experiencing (that is, the Mystery Egg or Lost Pet notifications that can be posted by apps like FarmVille or Happy Pets, as two examples, that tend to be posted in bulk). Now, the most recent post is shown, following by a link to “See X number of similar posts,” which expands to allow a user to see and thereby interact with the rest of the wall postings as normal. This of course lessens the amount of game postings a user has to scroll through to reach the “important” things, but it also lessens the visual exposure a user has to the app, as a single post is easily skimmed over or forgotten.
With all of this combined, how has application traffic been affected since the switch? As we saw at the beginning of May, perhaps the biggest game to be hit by the crunch was Zynga’s FarmVille. At the end of April, the game had seen a drop of 4.4 million players. Granted, as the most popular Facebook game, this barely put a dent in the remaining user count, but (as reported by All Facebook), since the peak in user activity in all Facebook applications on March 31 (interestingly after the removal of notifications), FarmVille has lost upwards of 38 percent of its daily active users – current App Data figures have the DAU count at around 21.6 million, down from 26.6 million just a month ago.
On the non-gaming side of the Facebook application world, one can see the that the same thing is happening. Causes, for example, which asks users to publicly show their support on any number of matters, saw its daily active user base cut almost in half (from 1.4 million DAU to around 800,000) – and that’s just from May 3 to May 17. For whatever reason, this figure has once again started to rise, and currently sits at a little over 1.2 million users.
As two examples, FarmVille and Causes also happen to be two of the older apps on Facebook, which leads one to a question – is the removal of third-party Facebook notifications really to blame for the drops in user activity, or is it user fatigue or boredom with playing and/or interacting with the same app day after day that has been the culprit? With the rocket-launch of Zynga’s Treasure Isle, which shot to around 25 million monthly players shortly after launch, obviously gamers are still around to play the games, so the question is a hard one to answer.
Do you have any thoughts on the subject? Perhaps you used to play or use some apps that you no longer do – what made you give them up?
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