In Business Model, News, Video Game Genres

Electronic Arts Facebook Games Are Retired

The Sims Social during happier days.

The Sims Social during happier days.

APRIL 15, 2013 • Maxis utilized a post on the EA blog to announce that three Electronic Arts Facebook titles would be shut down on June 14: Sims Social, SimCity Social and Pet Society. The reason for terminating the games was a continued fall off in the number of players and player activity. Electronic Arts will realign its presence on Facebook around games from its PopCap unit. In addition, players of the Maxis games that are closing will receive a special offer introducing them to a PopCap game. Details of the offer were not disclosed. Elsewhere on the publisher was advising Sims Social users to spend their remaining balance of SimCash before the game is retired on June 14th. After that date any remaining SimCash left in the game will be invalid.

Impact: By their own admission EA’s All Play label has found publishing social games something of a challenge. The division is now determined to be much more selective of which franchises and projects to get behind for social networks. By comparison, the publisher doesn’t see a ceiling for games on mobile devices. To us the reality is that EA’s Facebook offerings ended up having a short lifespan so they need to be pulled. The larger issue isn’t mobile versus Facebook, it really is a product that has a long tail is what works. Bejeweled, for example, is still doing fine. EA is pulling products that didn’t have a tail. Just look at Sims Social. The title was released in August of 2011 and right out of the gate attained 50 million monthly active users (MAU). Now the MAU is somewhere around 5 million. By our estimates at that level the title will be lucky to generate $10 million in gross annual revenue from Facebook. That’s really not much for a game that requires significant support. SimCity Social and Pet Society are also way down from their peaks at around 1 million MAU. All three games are declining in users, so we are not surprised that EA is pulling the plug. Any casual F2P title requires a huge and growing player base for profitable monetization. Without a long tail we’re looking at titles with something more akin to a retail lifecycle. That all goes back to game design, yet we have noticed that many of the social titles that EA and Zynga have released as of late have seemed destined toward a shorter lifespan. We are not sure that is a model that is sustainable on any F2P platform.

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