With Diamond Dash eating its way through traffic on our weekly gainers lists and Bejeweled Blitz allegedly monetizing better than one might think, we turn our attention to the match-3 genre of arcade game for a look at the Facebook leaders on our social game traffic tracking service, AppData.
The match-3 genre is unique among arcade games because of its simplicity; just the name of the genre alone tells you exactly how to play the game. Many games within the genre build upon the basic game by incorporating rules and mechanics to create a slightly different game that still fits the genre. In the case of Diamond Dash, for example, players try to cluster three or more like-colored gems in any formation to clear them from the board as opposed to the classic match-3 gameplay of laterally swapping like-colored items to line up three in a row. Carry the match-3 variations too far, however, and you wind up with a different kind of arcade game. For example, Zuma Blitz has players trying to match like-colored balls to clear a board; but the balls roll along a path toward the player’s avatar and the player shoots matching balls at the rolling column in a way that relates the game more to pinball or a shooting gallery.
For the purposes of this analysis, we limit our definition of match-3 to games with the objective of clearing a board full of items that otherwise do not move without player interaction. This eliminates “Tetris clones” where the player starts out with a completely empty board bombarded with moving items and games where the player shoots a projectile into a cluster of items to match colors. Note that we also exclude games where match-3 is only offered as a mini-game or as part of a larger arcade games portal.
11.4 million MAU
3.4 million DAU
It should come as no surprise that “the original” match-3 game tops all others on Facebook. Interestingly, it also tops all other arcade games of any description by a margin of at least 2 million users. Players swap like-colored gems into columns or rows of at least three to clear the gems from the board and earn points. The game monetizes through the sale of power ups that increase score or somehow change the layout of gems on the board.
4.8 million MAU
German social game developer wooga has several titles in its library that come close to being match-3s, but of them all, only the newly-released Diamond Dash fits our definition of the genre. Players attempt to cluster like-colored gems in groups of three or more to clear them from the board. The game doesn’t appear to have any monetization features or power-ups in place at this time.
Though once a very popular game with an MAU north of 2 million and a DAU over 400,000, this classic match-3 game hasn’t seen much traffic in the last three months. Jungle Jewels adds something the core gameplay through a collection mini-game where players try to complete the image of a statue by completing levels. The game appears to be suffering from technical difficulties on Facebook as of press time.
Fortune Stones launched last month and doesn’t seem like its hit its high point in growth yet. The game adds a strategic level of gameplay and lets users customize the game board.
*Note: Due to a miscategorization, Fortune Stones was previously left off this list.
Much like Diamond Dash, Collapse asks players to click on clusters of like-colored squares to clear them from the board. Like Jungle Jewels, the game’s long term appeal doesn’t seem very strong, having decreased in MAU and DAU by more than half from its all-time high numbers.
*Note: Due to a misinterpretation of the game’s description, Collapse was previously left off this list.
This game adds an adventure game element to the match-3 gameplay where users navigate to different points on a map to trigger a match-3 engagement. Unlike Jungle Jewels, it looks like Jewels Rock never really caught on with Facebook players, reaching barely double its present-day numbers eight months after launch before dropping off. When we interviewed MegaZebra’s CEO some weeks back after a new round of funding, he indicated that this and other older MegaZebra games might be getting updates in the future.
Jewel Stars is perhaps the least aggressive when it comes to iterating on the match-3 core gameplay, which is perhaps why it doesn’t seem to have reached a very large audience. The game also notably slows down the pace most match-3 tend to keep, suggesting that it’s aimed at a younger audience.
Looking at this list, it’s clear to us that merely copying the base game of match-3 isn’t enough to create an arcade game with mass appeal. Clever iterations, however, may not be enough either as we see that Poseidon’s Realm just missed the top five match-3 games despite some significant tweaks to the core gameplay (including a shifting board). Rather a more subtle quality issue seems to be at the key to a match-3 game’s success, where one game’s gem drop rate and speed of registered clicks just “feels” better than another.