Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, January 14, 2011

Facebook Asian Growth Due To Games

Map created by data samples from Facebook's network.
We all know that Facebook's been growing like crazy, and has hit the 500 million user mark. It's become the Web's most popular destination. What isn't so widely known is that much of the recent growth is due to Asia. Crazy four-digit growth rates like 1,000 percent growth in Malaysia. Think that's a lot? Thailand grew by 4,000 percent, and Taiwan shot up an amazing 7,500 percent. Indonesia is now the largest Facebook population outside of the US, and 80% of the people there have no Internet access. What's responsible for this amazing growth? If you said games, you are correct.

Farmville leads the way... many people in Asia sign up for Facebook purely to play Farmville. Maybe it's something in the culture, but Farmville has just seemed to resonate somehow. (Now, if Zynga could just add gambling to it somehow, they'd really get the Asian market playing!)

While much of Asia is rushing to join Facebook, it's not all success for the social network. China is the great prize, of course, with a billion potential customers. There are 147 million people on RenRen, the Facebook equivalent run by the Chinese government. (Just guessing here, but you probably can't post about just anything on RenRen.) Facebook would have a huge audience in China, if they could get past the Great Internet Wall. But so far China is intent on keeping Facebook at bay by completely blocking access to it. The Chinese government is worried about the potential for Facebook to facilitate social unrest. Facebook has to find some way to deal with the government's concerns if they want to get into that market, but it may mean making concessions that will be more than a little uncomfortable. Don't expect it to happen any time soon.

China's not the only country Facebook's having difficulty taking over. Japan and South Korea are also proving to be tough nuts to crack; between those two countries there's only 4 million Facebook users. It's not an official wall, it's just loyalty to their homegrown social networks.

There's still plenty of growth for Facebook to achieve, and games will go right along with it. Translations become an issue there, so localization will be important for companies that want to follow Facebook's growth in different markets.

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