SIMS SOCIAL

This article reports on the new social game Sims Social and its massive success since its recent release. The article begins by reporting that over 66,560,159 people have played this game in the past month. Although it attempts to put this figure in perspective through (rather incongruous) comparisons, I did some research to further verify that this was, in fact, an outlandishly high number of people.

There are approximately 800 active facebook users. About 8% of them have played Sims Social. Furthermore, there are approximately 6.7 billion people in the world, so about 1% of the WHOLE world has played Sims Social.

Sims Social follows the formula of most successful social games: you are given a finite amount of resources which you must distribute and utilize in order to achieve goals. However, Sims distinguishes itself by also requiring players to interact with their friends in-game (or else spend real world cash for in-game purchase) in order to progress in the game. Past games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars have offered social interactions with Facebook friends as an option for progression, but Sims Social is the first to require it. Citing two examples from the article “…to build a new couch you may have to ask your friends to send you wrenches… Later, if you want to expand your property, you may need even more friends to sign a petition.” Assuming that players are inviting their friends to join Sims Social because in-game progression necessitates it, we can now consider how the game spreads throughout a network of Facebook users.

We can apply basic graph theory learned in class to understand Sims Social’s viral dispersion within social networks. Consider two social circles A and B. Each person is close friends with those in their own circle (strong ties) and not very close friends (weak ties) with a percentage of the people in the other circle. This could roughly represent any subsection of Facebook, from groups of kids in a high school to populations in neighboring states.

For simplicity’s sake let’s say each group has 100 close friends. Additionally we assume that friends prefer to invite close friends first to join a game.

Let’s start with only 1 person playing FarmVille in group A. Assume FarmVille encourages players to invite 2 new players per day in order to aid in progression. Since this is an optional task, assuming each person only invites 1 other friend to join per day, it will take 7 days before all of group A is playing FarmVille, and invites must spill over to group B. (Day 0:1 player, day 1: 2 players, day 2: 4 players, day 3: 8 players…day n:2n ­­­­players… day 7: 128 players). Only on day 7 will the game reach network B.

Now let’s consider 1 person in group A playing Sims Social. Assume that progression in the game requires players to invite 2 people on their first day, 4 people the second day, 8 people the third day, ect. for in-game advancement. We assume since this is not optional to progression everyone follows these invitation rules. In this case, it takes only 4 days for the game to reach the other circle (Day 0:1 player, day 1: 3 players, day 2: 11 players, day 3: 43 players, day 4: 171).

Although my starting parameters and assumption were hypotheticals, they provide a clear example of how mandatory friend invitation coupled with increasingly demanding invitation requirements causes much faster progression of an app or game being shared across a social network. Additionally the following graph I found shows the actual progression of monthly active users for the past month. The sharp increase followed by steady decrease in the rate of growth of the game may imply that the game spread enough to saturate one subnetwork (most likely a nationality or age demographic of more likely to be friends, and is now more slowly being spread to other branches of the entire social network.