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Facebook changes mean that Cityville lost 20 million mAUS last week

By on October 18, 2011
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Glance at the Appdata chart for Cityville and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Zynga had a terrible weekend. MAUs fell from around 75 million to around 55 million on a single day.

 

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If you thought the change was more likely to be due to a change in how MAUs were calculated, you’d be right.

Facebook used to measure an MAU as someone who visited an app, before they authenticated. In practice, many developers seem to require people to log in before they use the app. Facebook has decided to redefine MAUs to mean “users who have authenticated” (i.e. logged in.). For more details, check out the bottom of this Facebook blog post.)

This means that fly-by visitors who took one look at an app, decided not to authenticate and moved on will no longer be included in MAUs. Some observations:

  • This will change headline numbers of MAUs, but won’t have a negative impact on the underlying business of games companies. The users who are no longer being measured were not engaged users anyway
  • This change should improve the DAU/MAU ratio that has been falling fast through the summer. Caveat: if DAUs were just as overstated as MAUs, nothing will change. I will keep an eye on these metrics, and if it merits a change to the GAMESbrief free-to-play forecasting spreadsheet, I’ll let you know.
  • I don’t fully understand the definition of “authentication” in a technical sense, but these changes suggest that 20 million users landed on the Cityville page, took one look and left in a single month. That’s a lot of users that Zynga paid to acquire who then left.

The DAU/MAU chart for Cityville shows that the changes have lifted the engagement rate from around 18 to around 22. So far, it is looking like MAUs are now a better measure of who is actually playing the game, which is good thing for understanding the underlying business.

But it has just got a lot harder to reach 100 million MAUs again.

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About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com