The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets


Game of the Week: Dragon City

By Huel Fuchsberger

With over 16M MAU and more than 4M DAU Dragon City is Social Point’s flagship-game. In the wide variety of games offered by the Spanish developer located in Barcelona, Dragon City is their most popular RPG-Farming-Hybrid. Since the release in May 2012 the user base has grown constantly. It now ranks as the #6 on the DAU leaderboards.

Developer/Publisher:  Social Point
Genre:  RPG/Adventure
Languages:  English
Best-selling Item: 25 Gems($ 1.94)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 16,400,000 MAU 4,200,000 DAU

How to play
In Dragon City the player hatches, grows and trains dragons to fight dragons of other players. New dragons can be bought and need to be hatched in the hatchery. When hatched the dragon has to be places in a fitting habitat that the player builds beforehand. To get the dragons into fighting shape, the dragons need to be feeded to level up. Food can be harvested from farms the player builds. Reaching level four, three dragons can be taken to the battlefield. Winning increases the value of dragons and the rate they produce gold. Also the premium currency gems can be won by fighting other players. With this mechanics the player tries to level up his dragoons, breed new kinds by mixing different kinds of dragons. The collecting and training of the dragons creates a bond to these creatures and enhances the experience significantly. Together with the well balanced economic system it makes a great social game.  

Good Balance

Dragon City succeeds in doing what many other games of this type never quit manage – making the game bearable for those who don’t pay. Playing Dragon City the player doesn’t get the impression all the interesting stuff is a week grind away. It Every day something new can be discovered or build. Only in Battles the difference can be felt significantly, since players that invest or have a big friends base playing the game tend to have the better trained dragons than regular players. Still it is possible to beat those players after a few, by adjusting the own team just for those fight. Those encounters show the good balancing and game design of Dragon City and make clear that social games can be fun without requiring payments.


Game of the Week – Stormfall: Age of War

By Huel Fuchsberger

As one of the few social games using voice output Stormfall: Age of War differentiates itself early from other castle building games. The Israeli developers manage to distinguish their game from others on the market and create an interesting world to play in.  With  1,300,000  MAU and 200,000 DAU on AppStats it leaves question, if the positive  initial impression is carried into the higher levels of the game.

Developer/Publisher:  Plarium
Genre:  Strategy
Languages:  English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Turkish
Best-selling Item: 3000 Sapphires ($14.47)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 1,300,000 MAU 200,000 DAU

How to play
Stormfall is a castle builder like many others. The main resources are gold, iron and food. With those the player has to construct buildings, recruit troops, buy upgrades or research new versions of the mentioned things. To defend and expand his castle, the player has to form alliances with other player or wage war against them. Also trading is possible. Interesting here is that is implemented as an open market. Players offer a good and name its price. It is up to other players to buy or ignore the entire on the market. Prices therefore are determined by demand and supply.

Another way to interact with friends, next to the trading and alliances, is the possibilities to summon ghost troops to reinforce the own troops. Together with the option of sending troop and resources to allies and the possibility of mailing each other, Stormfall manages to create an opportunity for real bond between players.

If played with the right persons the player in Stormfall experiences the game as if he was a real lord in this world. In these occasions Stormfall shines and engages the player the most. Players don’t play alongside anymore, occasionally interact with each other, but they start to play together by planning wars and calling for aid. In these cases the game works the best. For those players planning on the long term the premium currency gets interesting.

Pay to save

At first it seemed odd that Stormfall asks the player for real money to build something essential to a fortress like walls. But on second thought, it makes sense. Since walls are only needed in a case of defense they only result as an advantage when attacked. This means different than combat troops and other objects that are needed to expand, walls more or less saves the players progress. A strong defense makes sure that the spoils of war or the profit from trades won’t be lost that easily to others players. This advantage is only needed for players that plan playing on a longer time frame. It is possible to play without a strong defense, it is just riskier to do so.

Also the management of the player’s session is handled naturally. Stormfall doesn’t rely on an additional energy system. Only resources and traveling time of troops limit the player’s progress. This means that even if the player is not actively playing, the game moves on.  Since other players may move as well while the player is offline, it creates the tension of the classical browser game. In which the player always wonders, what is happening in the world of Stormfall.


Game of the Week: Baseball Heroes

By Huel Fuchsberger

Released in April 2012 the Facebook sports game Baseball Heroes has now 2.400.000 MAU and 410.000 DAU on The Korean developer Syntasia created a baseball social game with an anime-style that looks appealing and offers interesting game play.

Developer/Publisher:  Syntasia
Genre:  Sport
Languages:  English, Indonesian, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Korean
Best-selling Item:  Special Batter Energy Reset ($0,15)
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook):  2.400.000 MAU 410.000 DAU

How to play

Baseball Heroes has several layers of game play. Into which the player is introduce step by step. The player begins with creating a team and his avatar. After the creation and customization part the first game of the season awaits.

Before the action takes place on the green, the player has to pick his line up for the match. This segment of the game is handled like a trading card game. The player can buy booster pack to acquire special players and use them to improve his line up’s strength. Those special players can be enhanced or in pairs of three, traded in for better cards. Also friend’s avatars can be added to the line up. After setting up the Team, the match begins.

Here the player is introduced to the match game play. It is a reaction game in which the player only plays out the hits of his avatar during the match. To hit the incoming ball the player tries to click on the ball in a grid. For a home run, accuracy and timing must be spot on. If not, the hit could be enough to reach a base or lead to fly out. There is a combo-meter available that if fully charged leads immediately to a home run if the ball is hit by the player.

After the matches players can manage their players, the team and the stadium. Upgrades to the stadium lead to more cash that can be collected by selling tickets. This coin can be spend to purchase better gear for the avatar or better players for the line up.

A strong game for those who pay

Baseball Heroes is a well crafted social sports game in many regards. Even though the anime-style may not be for everyone, the underlying game play is worth taking a look. Only thing spoiling the fun is the need for payment. Even though the game play can be addictive, if the player doesn’t invest into the game, the experience is very different. In some cases this can’t be compensated by inviting friends, but not always. This is in particular the case for gear. It is so powerful that it creates a significant imbalance. This can be especially felt when the first free bat runs out. Winning a match afterward is way harder. It gives the game an unpleasant “pay to win” aftertaste. These cases of imbalance are seldom but feel displeasing.


Game of the Week: Howzat Cricket

By Huel Fuchsberger

Cricket is a popular sport in the Commonwealth countries. In Jamaica or Barbados the team sport actually is the national sport. With Howzat Cricket the developer and publisher Game Ventures found a niche on Facebook. The game of the in Singapore located company has currently 864,000 MAU and 120,000 DAU according to AppStats.

Developer/Publisher:  Game Ventures
Genre:  Sport
Languages:  English
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 864,000MAU 120,000DAU

How to play

Cricket in its essence is the duel between the bowler (pitcher) and the batsman (batter) and marks the core game play of Howzat Cricket. Players control the batsman and react to the bowler controlled by the computer. With the left, right, down and up arrow the player decides how he wants to strike the ball. If timed right the player hits the ball and his batsman has than time to cross the pitch (sandy center of the field) to make single runs. He does that by pressing the spacebar.

In cricket the batsman scores 6 runs if he strikes the ball high over the field boundary. If the ball touches the ground before, he only scores 4 runs. Should the ball land within the boundary, field players will try to hit the wicket. The wicket is a wooden construct that the batsman tries to protect. The player can choose to play it safe or go all in. If he plays aggressive the chance for a field player catching the ball is higher if he doesn’t hit it right, resulting in a point for the enemy.

By repeating this pattern the player tries to score a predetermined score in his Inning to win the game. It is possible to plays different leagues. In winning them the player leads his own personal team to the top in standings. It is also possible to manage the team and improve it by buying new players, gear an extra exercise. Better items are only available with a premium currency.  The regular currency can be earned by playing single player or winning multiplayer matches.

Multiplayer matches use the same game mechanic and only compare the results of the 4 competing players with each other. There are 2 modes available – Hot Chase and Knockout.
In Knockout the player with the lowest score is kicked out at the end of every round. Hot chase is a game for the highest score. The players play a couple of rounds and the players with the highest sum wins.

Cricket in a Nutshell

Howzat Cricket is fun to play and doesn’t rely on the social games paradigm “mouse control only”. The mixture of reaction game and the possibility to choose between a riskier or saver play pattern makes the game interesting.
Sure there is room for improvements. For example the player doesn’t get a visual feedback when his batsmen have finished a run. Also the Team customization could be a bit more fleshed out and playing the bowler in multiplayer could bring more excitement into the matches. In sum Howzat Cricket is a fun and entertaining cricket social game.


Game of the Week: Bubble Paradise

By Huel Fuchsberger

Bubble Paradise is a bubble shooter from the in Barcelona located developer Social Point.
It’s an older game that managed to rise up to last week’s #6 top gainer in MAU on  At the currently it is Social Point’s 4th biggest game after the popular Dragon City, Social Empires and Social Wars.

Developer/Publisher:  Social Point
Genre:  Puzzle
Languages:  English
Platforms:   Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 610,000 MAU 40,000 DAU

How to play

Bubble Paradise is a straight forward bubble shooter. The player proceeds from level to level by solving the bubble puzzles. By matching three bubbles of the same color they disappear. In fixed time intervals the bubble field moves towards the player, resulting in a game over if the bubbles reach him.

The game is fairly simple when it comes to its mechanics. No special bubbles, items or power ups. By inviting friends it’s possible to increase the amount of tries for a level. Also a tournament mode is available, which doesn’t play any different than the regular mode. To make up for the lack in game play depth, a story element has been added. But it falls short and is no incentive to play this game for a longer time period.

Nothing Special

Social Point’s bubble shooter doesn’t add anything to the proved bubble shooter mechanics. Even the things that are there such as the tournament modes, awards and story don’t feel fleshed out. Also the aggressive social implementation with several pop–up screens in a row do not help  the experience. In sum, it leaves this social game in mini-game-prototype state, which won’t hold its current user number for long


Game of the Week – Puzzel Adventures

By Huel Fuchsberger

The classic jigsaw puzzle isn’t just kid’s entertainment. Also adults enjoy the challenge that lies in solving jigsaw puzzles. With “Puzzle Adventures” the  German company Ravensbuger Digital created the social game that should please puzzlers desires. The mother company Ravensburger has a 125 year long tradition in making puzzles and kid’s games and evolves the trademark with Ravensburger Digital beyond the classical cardboard puzzle. Their digital version was released in December 2011 and has currently 620,000MAU and 12,000 according to And it seems that the classic puzzle can transport its charm into the digital era.

Developer/Publisher:  Ravensburger Digital GmbH
Genre:  Puzzle
Languages:  English
Best-selling Item: 200 Puzzle Cash ($ 1.10)
Platforms:  Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 620,000MAU 120,00DAU

How to play

The basic game structure is simple. Players solve puzzles by rotating and dragging the parts in the right position, if the intersections fit they merge. The controls are very intuitive which makes the game easy to pick up. Different than in other puzzle games, parts can be merged everywhere on the field. This leaves the player the freedom to choose how to tackle the problem. Players may first sort the parts by colors, search for corners and edges or start by linking the first key parts of the image. A strategic approach is needed, since the puzzle has to be solved in a limited amount of time. To mix things up the games asks players to solve chosen parts in a certain time. If successful they are rewarded and in some occasions punished if they fail.

Should the player need help, bonus items are available in the in-game store. They can be purchased with a premium currency called “Puzzle Cash”. Puzzle Cash can’t be earned by playing, but it is possible to earn items directly by playing. Players can collect a series of bonus items to complete a collection. These collections can be gathered by playing certain levels.

Around the core game Ravensburger also build a competitive “Tournament Mode”. Players can compete with each other in weekly tournaments. Those consist one puzzle challenge per day which has to be solved as quickly as possible. The player with highest overall score of the week wins. For less competitive player progressive features are available.

In the “Adventure Mode” players solve levels and progress through several stages with increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. Players can compare their scores with their friends and gain levels.

A game for puzzlers

With Puzzle Adventures Ravensburger Digital manages to transfer their brand into the digital realm. Puzzle Adventures is a good social game that meets the quality and professionalism associated with Ravensburger.  Even the small flaws as the leveling system which fells attached and doesn’t add much to the game, don’t disturb the overall experience


Game of the Week – Vector

By Huel Fuchsberger

After the popular Shadow Fight the Russian developer Nekki created a second game using their distinct vector based look – its name is Vector. In this social arcade game players enter the role of an escapist in a futuristic dystopian society. With the help of parkour the evader tries to shake off his pursuers. With the overcrowded gem, slots and RPG genres Vector is a interesting take on social games. But is different always better? With 380,000 MAU and 60,000DAU it’s not one of the giant fish in the social games ocean – but certainly an exotic one.

Developer/Publisher: Nekki
Genre:  Action & Arcade
Languages:  English
Best-selling Item: Coins $ 1.67 (According to App Center)
Platforms:  Facebook, VK
Active users (Facebook): 360,000 MAU 60,000 DAU

How to play

The player’s character is running from left to right and chased by a security guard. If the guard catches the player, he has to try the section again. The key to escape is to overcome the incoming hindrances in the quickest manner possible. Controls for that are simple. Player’s can jump over, sprint along or slide under the obstruction on roof tops of the futuristic mega city. With the right timing it is possible to perform tricks while moving. Thanks to the in-house developed “Cascadeur” animation tool, it also looks and feels like the real life counterpart. While traversing the sections, the player collects bonus cubes and credits.

If all bonus cubes are gathered and tricks where performed, the player is rewarded with a 3 stars rating for that section. Since stars unlock new areas, mastering all sections is crucial. All the more because all stars in the first level are needed, to unlock the second one.  Mastering the sections and getting the timing right can be quite the challenge. Achieving a perfect run is therefore very rewarding.

Payment and Tricks

As mentioned the player collects credits while freerunnig over the roof tops. Things he can purchase are cosmetic upgrades or consumable gadgets that slow time or block the chaser and make it easier to master a section. A more essential thing players have to buy are tricks.
This wouldn’t be a problem, if those where not required for a perfect rating in the levels. This constellation leads to a strange situations for players. It can happen that the player performs a perfect run and hits all the tricks, but the game doesn’t acknowledge it because a trick wasn’t unlocked yet. This applies especially for skilled players that only need a few runs to master a section. Because the performance is not rewarded with extra credits he can’t proceed and get new challenges. Hindered in his process the player is then forced to choose. Either he farms the needed credits by replaying the same sections again and again or buys the missing credits to unlock new content. Either case is not ideal for him and may scare some users off.


Game of the Week – TrainStation

By Huel Fuchsberger

Model trains always had a charm that appealed to many people. Not to the masses, but still to a reasonable amount of people. A good example for that is Pixelfederation’s TrainStation. Launched in October 2010 it now has 520,000 MAU and 110,000 DAU. Those are not incredible numbers, but this game is still worth taking a closer look at.

Developer/Publisher: Pixel Federation
Genre:  Simulation, Strategy
Languages:  English, German, French, Spanish, Turkish, Slovak, Polish, Indonesian, Italian, Rumanian, Dutch
Platforms:  Facebook, Browser
Active users (Facebook): 520,000 MAU 110,000 DAU

How to play

The player is in charge of his own train station and trains. His objective is to move passengers, mail and freight cars to earn gold, resources and experience points (XP). As he increases in level, he also moves forward in the time line of railroad history. This unlocks new trains, cargo and themes for purchase. Themes are upgrades for the train station that change the look of the station and unlock new buildings, trains and cars of the themes era. The player starts with a western theme and steam trains. Later he can unlock locations like Venice or Japan and upgrade his trains up to Maglev-style trains.

The game play boils down to finding the balance between transporting mail and people or gathering resources with the given trains. Moving people/mail earns the player gold. Resources are needed to construct buildings and to purchase new themes and upgrades. The player can also try to fulfill contracts for neighbors and earn bonus XP and rare rail cars.

All of this results in a fairly complex game that has much to offer. Unfortunately many players will be turned off by the very steep leveling-curve.

The though deep end

The tutorial guides the player up to level 12. Although the tutorial is not the best of its kind, those first 12 levels still breeze along in one play session. Unlocked trains, rail cars and buildings stay affordable with every level up. This accessibility changes after the tutorial.

Significant new things as themes or new engine types are beyond reach for the player. Especially for those who don’t wish to pay. Gathering the needed resources and reaching the needed level can take a lot of time. It is quite an effort to get to new themes, eras or trains. For example, the first theme is available at level 20. The average player will probably need a week to reach that level if he logs in 3-5 times a day. Not ensuring that he then has the needed resources to buy the theme when he unlocks it. Buying it with the premium currency is not an option for everyone. A deep pocket is needed, since the cost of themes and engines are significant. This is likely to scare of those who don’t want to invest deeply into TrainStation. Only persistent players will experience the deeper end of this game.