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Fluff Friends: Prickett is Confused, and I Don’t Care

January 4, 2008

I’m currently studying the way Facebook games propagate player to player. Fluff Friends is an apparently popular “game” that has happily propagated itself all over the place. I’m very dubious about the level of retention, however, and that wildly skews the alleged popularity of this application. In my rather substantial list of friends with Fluff Friends installed, all but three have been inactive for two or more months.

This suggests that they installed it to try it, but have abandoned their Fluff Friends just like I have:

He is doomed to live a life of boredom

What’s troublesome about this is that it represents the popularity of the game in a way that is not actually representative of its true popularity. Perhaps X% of people have the app installed, but how many active, actual views are occurring in the game’s world? What if advertising revenue and future VC for Facebook apps is based on propagation and not retention and time spent in the world? This applies not just to Fluff Friends, but all Facebook games. It’s an interesting consideration that I hope those in power are taking into account.

In any case, I don’t believe Fluff Friends is as popular or as allegedly good as people think it is. The game bored me to tears, seemed less than logical in its race results, abstracted the whole thing, and actually embarrassed me. I talked with a few other game developers to see if my experience was unique, and it wasn’t. They, too, wanted to get into this game and just couldn’t.

Aside from what I’m calling “newsfeed testimonials” in which the player sees his or her friends have installed the game, it relies on the following dynamics to propogate itself:

1. Making “Munny”: To make “munny” to your fluff things, you need to do things to other people’s fluff friends: pet them, feed them, leave them gifts. Without this network, this ability to do things to other people’s fluff friends, you won’t be making money. This is perhaps the single largest motivator to get friends to install the app.

2. Fluff actions: The more friends you have, the more actions your fluff potentially receives for free. People pet him, feed him, leave him gifts. This makes it beneficial for the player to ask other people to play.

3. Social Etiquette: For me, this is perhaps the most interesting dynamic present in this game. If someone gives your fluff a gift, it’s appropriate to do the same thing in kind to thank the player in some way. This could make the player either a) earn munny through petting other people’s pets, thus engaging them in the same loop, or b) perform a lesser action such as petting the pet.

4. Race results: This is another interesting dynamic in that it has the potential to strategically involve inactive players and reactivate them. When a player selects to race his or her fluff against another fluff, the game also chooses people from your existing list to race as well. Therefore, the game could (I don’t know if it does, but it could) choose people who have been inactive the longest or inactive within a certain range of time to race as well. These results appear in the player’s newsfeed, and perhaps encourage him or her to get back into the game.

5. Character development: This standby of games seems to be at the core of this thing, but I feel so unmotivated to pursue it. You feed your fluff food or get him things which cost munny. That makes him happier and faster and theoretically, this makes him race better. Based on the results from the races that I’ve been in, the speed hasn’t had that great an effect on predicting the winner.

All this said, I remain suspect about the alleged popularity of this game.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2008 2:56 pm

    It sounds… fascinating and yet… not.
    I know what you mean. There are so many Facebook apps that people simply add and never use. I’ve stopped getting invitations to be a Pirate and a Ninja and a Vampire and a Zombie and a Werewolf and who knows what else, and I suspect it’s because people have simply stopped using that application.

    Same goes for games like Fight Club, where you would get together friends to start a gang, and the more people you had in your gang the easier you could win fights. Then you could personally improve your character by training three times a day or so. The premise is an interesting idea, and could have been a lot of fun… but there’s just no motivation in pointing and clicking and seeing the resulting “YOU WON THE FIGHT” or “YOU LOST THE FIGHT” with no real indicator of what the fight actually looked like.

  2. September 4, 2008 6:39 am

    this is a game that i play, I am a stay at home mum, and many of the daily users are female aged over 18 and anywhere up to 60.

    I participate in the forum, where you can chat to other users. (not your friends) and sort trades of items, or even run your own contest for other users.

    there are many “petting zoo’s” a place where there are list and lists of fluffbook links so you dont need to have friends with fluff, (they do help while racing though)

    There is always new things coming out. And Mike the creator even takes ideas given by users and implements them in to the game, like decorations and fluff pets themselves.

  3. Christy permalink
    December 16, 2008 12:24 am

    Although it’s true that (fluff)Friends became “popular”, it is also starting to lose just as many people after the take over. Ever since the take over, a lot of (fluff)Friend items and habitats have become more gold orientated, and as a consequence, people are getting fed up with the greed and disgust that occurs on the forums. Krystal and the other moderators are fully aware of what is going on, however because Krystal can no longer just sit down with the owner as it is no longer Mike, our opinions haven’t been taken into as much consideration as with Mike. I’m not targeting SGN as a “bad” owner of (fluff)Friends, however because they are indeed a corporation, and they need to make money, many people no longer find (fluff)Friends as enjoyable as it used to be.

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