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Top Gaming Apps On Facebook: Daily Active Users vs. Audience Engagement

At last week’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), Facebook revealed new statistics for Facebook-connected games across the web and mobile devices. On average, over 375 million people play Facebook-connected games each month, while Facebook’s own website and mobile apps send 735 million referrals, on average, to games each day.

This got me wondering: how do social games operate on social media? Which techniques are they employing to drive referrals, and which are the most successful? How can the gaming world’s use of the Facebook platform change the way any brand thinks about its social media strategy? This AppData monthly leaderboard shows the 25 Facebook apps with the most active daily users:

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The first obvious question when examining how social media works in the world of social games is:

Does a Facebook gaming app’s # of daily active users correlate to the amount of engagement it sees on its Facebook fan page?

The short answer is “no.” But the long answer is much more interesting. Here’s the engagement scorecard for the games in Facebook’s top 25 apps:

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PAGE FANS: Texas HoldEm Poker wins, but Candy Crush Saga comes in a relatively close second.

Does it match up? Nope. Texas HoldEm actually holds bottom place in March’s top 25 Facebook apps.

Possible reasons why: Freebies. Almost every post on Texas HoldEm’s Facebook page is a link to bonus chips and skip-aheads exclusive to that Facebook page. Players know they need to “like” the fan page to get the in-game goodies they crave.

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Texas HoldEm also wins for posting frequency, with 108 posts in March–more than double even its closest rival in this category, Dragon City, which may also be key to its significant fan pool.

TOTAL ENGAGEMENT: Criminal Case is the clear winner here, with 3,339,131 comments and 1,996,907 likes. It’s closest rival is Hay Day, with only about 1/5 of CC’s 5,469,030 engagement count.

Does it match up? Nope. Criminal Case is a solid mid-list presence on the top 25 this month. Hay Day actually ranks above it in DAU’s.

Possible reasons why: Criminal Case asks fans to like and comment on many of their updates.

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This is a worthwhile strategy, since more people liking and commenting on a post results in a greater likelihood of the post showing up on non-fans’ feeds and, eventually, generates new players.

SHARES: The top contenders’ scores are a little closer when it comes to shares. Criminal Case wins, but Dragon City and FarmVille 2 aren’t far behind. Interestingly, the top 4 games in DAU’s don’t even come close.

Does it match up? Nope.

Possible reasons why: Again, freebies. All of the games with the most shares offer in-game incentives for sharing their posts on Facebook.

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This builds maximum reach, looping in other Facebook users and creating free publicity.

MOST ENGAGED FANS: Who does the best job of interacting with their fans? Hay Day, by a long shot.

Does it match up? Nope!

Possible reasons why: One reason is the frequent, image-heavy contests that Hay Day posts on its page, asking fans to guess answers and choose their favorite items in the comments area.

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Another reason is the extremely social nature of the game itself–a noticeable bulk of user comments came from fans asking other fans to add them for in-game progress and rewards.

Learnings & Questions Raised

Let the data be your guide. When I first ran a Multiple Facebook Channel Analysis report on this month’s top gaming apps, I had no idea what I’d find. As a social media analysis geek, that was part of the fun for me. I took a look at the data, and planned my post from there. I think this is a good process to follow for anyone involved in social media, especially those building future strategy: it’s ineffective and even detrimental to try to beat the data into supporting your idea. Instead, start with the cold hard facts and modify your campaigns to reflect the reality–how your audience is behaving and what they’re saying.

Does Facebook activity increase DAU’s? It will be interesting to see how the games with the most engagement and activity on Facebook grow in popularity in the month ahead. What will next month’s DAU top 25 look like? Will it reflect the aggressive efforts that games lower on the list are employing on Facebook right now? We’ll check back in at the end of April.

What is popularity? In gaming, that is. Is it the amount of people using your product everyday, or is it the amount of people engaged with you, and the growth of that number? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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