Given the widespread popularity of Facebook, becoming a top Facebook game can mean millions of dollars in revenue. Competition is fierce, and the field is still developing. However, several genres of game have dominated the top ranks of Facebook. The one thing these genres all have in common is that they can be played for a long time, but in short bursts.
The most popular genre at this point in time is the business simulation; most of the top Facebook games are of this type. In these games, players receive new resources each day which they use to grow a simulated business. These games take advantage of the social networking tools of Facebook in several ways. The business a player builds can visited by virtual avatars of the player’s friends. In Café World, for example, the player can entertain friends at an online coffee shop which they built themselves. This can also give the game a competitive edge, as players compete to build a more lavish coffee shop than their peers.
Cooperation is also rewarded. At random intervals, a player will receive a gift item. Players cannot use these items themselves, but they can give them away to other friends who play the same game. In Farmville, the most popular game of this type, these gifts come in the form of stray animals and seedlings which find their way onto the farm the player maintains. This also can bring in new players, luring previously disinterested users in with the promise of support from a friend.
Arcade-style puzzle games make up another significant portion of the Facebook game market. These games often revolve around manipulating items such as gems in order to create matching sets. One quality that makes these games well-suited to Facebook is that they take very little screen space, allowing a user to play and browse at the same time. The social aspect is less prominent in these games, but still appears in the time-honored form of the high score list.
Finally, there are the adaptations of classic board games and card games. These have the most interaction between users – direct competition, in real-time. These sorts of games are cheap for developers to produce and promote, because they have already been designed, and have a built-in audience.