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Facebook gaming boom is over - study

Active user numbers fall, development costs rise.

The Facebook gaming boom is on the wane, according to a new report from industry analyst IHS Screen Digest.

As detailed by VentureBeat, Screen Digest argued that user numbers are stagnating, development costs are increasing and competition is becoming ever more fierce.

The report claims that while the number of Facebook gamers soared in both 2009 and 2010, there was very little growth seen in 2011.

It added that about 50 per cent of Facebook's used the social network to play games in 2010, but that figure fell to around 25 per cent in 2011.

To illustrate its point, Screen Digest claimed that monthly active users for Facebook game giant Zynga fell from 266 million to 225 million.

And it looks the next 12 months could prove just as challenging for developers.

Screen Digest's report explained that Facebook's clamp down on game message spam means that it will be harder for new titles to get noticed without a costly marketing campaign, especially as there are more games than ever vying for subscribers' attention.

As a result, established developers will have to focus their efforts on keeping what customers they do have. But with gamers expecting higher production values, this could also prove costly.

"Facebook rocketed to prominence as a gaming platform in 2009 and 2010," summarised Screen Digest games analyst Steve Bailey.

"However, with equal speed, the market then settled into a state of maturity in 2011, with conditions becoming markedly more challenging for game operators.

"While Facebook remains a worthwhile opportunity for companies able to meet these challenges, the tone of the market in 2012 will be somewhat muted compared to the optimistic outlook of the past few years."

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