I’ve been playing around with our updated Facebook application statistics tool today and I noticed that Ms. Pacman has experienced a surge in popularity over the past couple days. I decided to poke around further and noticed that a number of other Pacman related applications have experienced a surge in traffic. So what explains the sudden rise in Pacman related traffic?
Well, my guess is that it isn’t related to a sudden worldwide obsession with Ms. Pacman or the original Pacman. Instead, the developers of some of these applications appear to be funneling users from other applications. When I finished playing a relatively easy version Pacman via the Pacman 2.0 application, I was immediately redirected to the Pac-man application which has also not surprisingly experienced a surge in traffic over the past couple days.
I was led to believe that I had not yet installed the game I was playing. I previously haven’t seen this model of driving new installs but it’s a pretty slick one and it appears to be working well. While the developers of this application won’t be making as much money as Bernie Madoff did, funneling users from one application to another is definitely a good way for boosting impressions across a network of apps.
Every popular Pacman application that I’ve played appears to be involved in some sort of activity that violates the terms of service. Ms. Pacman, for example, suggests that users “Invite 15 friends for 2 extra lives”, yet another clear violation of the developer terms of service. Do I really need two extra lives to play a game which isn’t that responsive to me banging on the up and down arrows? Probably not.
While Pacman is clearly a popular game on the Facebook platform (there are over 22 “Pacman” applications in the Facebook directory), I doubt there is any rational explanation for the recent surge in activity by the ones described in this article. All of these applications that are violating the terms of service only makes me wonder if it’s worth it to violate the terms in exchange for short-term success.
Facebook clearly doesn’t have the resources to police the platform (we wrote about Snowball Wars violating the terms back in December), so many applications can generate some decent revenue from these short-term boosts in traffic. So how much money is generated exactly? A fair amount. Pacman 2.0 at one point had around half a million users.
If each of those users viewed 3 pages, they’d have 1.5 million impressions. Let’s assume that a $0.50 CPM and you come up with a whopping $750. O.k., maybe it’s not that much money, but then again how long did it really take these developers to integrate a pre-existing flash game? Probably not too long. If these developers are based internationally, the amount earned may not be too bad.
I’m also guessing that these developers are expecting to be able to funnel these users from one application to the next, effectively building up a more solid base. While spending countless hours to game the Facebook platform isn’t a glamorous job, it’s apparently paying the bills for somebody. Pacman just happens to be the fraudsters app of choice for the time being.