Need your daily dose of Bubble Witch Saga on Facebook? So do about 6.5 million other daily active users on the social network.
King.com, the game developer who created the odd title, was able to boast Tuesday that it was the second most popular social game developer on Facebook. But, as of early Wednesday evening, King.com had fallen to eighth place -- demonstrating the fickleness of social games.
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Bubble Witch Saga, a casual game in which users make their way through levels by popping bubbles that comes out of a witches' cauldron, proved to have other impressive stats as well. It out-ranks FarmVille in daily active users, according to AppData, an independent metrics and trends site for Facebook apps. When it comes to monthly active users, however, FarmVille -- developed by gaming powerhouse Zynga -- still takes the cake with nearly 26 million active users.
Bubble Witch Saga is riding high, but considering past games that excelled in the space very quickly, it may not be able to hold the top spot for long. Bubble Witch Saga is only about seven months old, while FarmVille will celebrate its third anniversary this June.
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"A hot start certainly gives you an advantage out-of-the-gate, but social games are constantly evolving and the competition is high," said Scott Steinberg, CEO at TechSavvy Global and a gaming expert. "Just because you have the bestseller one day doesn't mean you're not tomorrow's one-hit wonder."
With hundreds of games being released everyday, it can be difficult to inspire loyalty, he added.
"The odds are tremendously stacked against newcomers," but it's still possible to have a hit, he said.
Steinberg listed a number key traits a winning game should have. It should be fun and engaging but also consumable, meaning the game lets users accomplish goals and feel like they're making progress. It needs to be intuitive, approachable and be filled with subliminal positive reinforcement. Steinberg said if a player's character in the game is constantly getting injured or killed, players won't want to keep coming back. A good game should also have elements of personalization, such as creating your own avatar or freedom to accomplish tasks in the order the player chooses. But even a winning formula is not a guarantee of success.
"If there were a formula, everyone would do it," he said. Another problem facing new game developers is discovery. "To have a successful game, you've got to be able to aggregate a community," he said.
To complicate this model a bit more, monetizing games also adds another element of complexity for developers.
Having a hit game, he said, "it's like trying to capture lightning in a bottle."
Stories of Facebook games that started off strong and fizzled out are not uncommon.
When EA's The Sims Social was introduced to the market last fall, some thought that the game's early rocket to success was a sign it could overtake Zynga's games. By early October, the New York Times reported that more than 66 million people had played the Sims game on Facebook, while other outlets speculated as to how many millions of players the game swiped from Zynga. For a brief time after the game's release, it was the second most popular game on Facebook -- beating FarmVille and falling just one spot behind Zynga's CityVille.
But by December, as the novelty of the game wore-off, The Sims Social fell behind FarmVille and landed in the number five spot. As of Tuesday, the game wasn't even listed in the top 100 most popular apps on Facebook on AppData.
So could Bubble Witch Saga suffer the same fate for King.com?
Growth at the company as a whole has been very strong over the past year. In January 2011, King had 750K daily active users; today, it has 6.5 million daily active users.
King.com CEO and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi said the company is continuously evolving Bubble Witch Saga. "We started with 70 levels and now have more than 200," he offered as one example.
"We aim to provide an experience that goes beyond the initial launch to create ongoing relationships with gamers versus a one-time purchase," he said. "The aim is also to retain players not with one game, but with a portfolio of the best games in each casual genre."
Only time will tell if Bubble Witch Saga has what it takes to keep King's audience coming back for more.
What social games do you play and what makes you to come back again and again? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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