Any social gaming industry insider will tell you that it’s been a rough couple of months for social game developers. After Facebook turned off ‘notifications’ on their social network, games haven’t been able to retain or gain users as well, and top games like Farmville have lost almost 5% of their monthly active userbase. That said, the fastest growing game on social networks for the last while has been iWin’s Family Feud for Faceook, and there’s no doubt that one of the key features that’s driving that growth is their implementation of the Fast Money Round.
First, here’s a quick look at how the Fast Round works on the original television show, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The winning family goes on to play Fast Money and chooses two family members to play the round. One family member leaves the stage and is placed in an isolation booth, while the other is given 20 seconds (15 seconds prior to 1994) to answer five questions. The clock begins counting down after the host finishes reading the first question. If he or she cannot think up an answer to a question, he or she may pass. A contestant may revisit a passed question at the end if time permits. If time runs out and all the questions have not been asked yet, they will still be in play as long as they have not been passed. The number of people giving each answer is revealed once all five answers are given or time has expired, whichever comes first. The player earns one point for each person that gave the same answer; at least two people must have given that answer for it to score. When revealing the number of people giving the same response, it is most commonly revealed with the phrase, “(Our) Survey said!”
Once all the points for the first player are tallied, the second family member comes back on stage with the first contestant’s answers covered and is given 25 seconds (20 seconds prior to 1994) to answer the same five questions. If the second player gives the same answer as the first player on a question, a double buzzer will sound and the host will ask for another response.
The round has always been a highlight for viewers of the show, and it is clear that iWin worked hard to bring this element into the social game in a meaningful and recognizable way, and the way it works in Family Feud for Facebook is viral, social and fun. I go into the details of the implementation below, but the key is that iWin has properly leveraged a well known big brand and big brand game mechanic and turned it into a feature that allows players to connect with their friends in a meaningful way. The feature is simultaneously a fun, quick round of Family Feud but is also a great way to see how similarly you and your friends think. It’s a perfect social game mechanic.
The way it works is that as a player, once I’ve completed a round of normal gameplay, I am asked to play the Fast Money round. I then have to answer the five questions in quick succession, just like on the television show, and hope that I answer enough to get 200 points. Once I’m done, the game prompts me to post to my own wall that “I just completed a Fast Money Round, please play the game to help me score more points”. I can also invite friends directly to play the round as well.
Friends who then click to play the Fast Money game get to play the round really quickly and win bonus points for themselves and their friend. Not only is this feature fun, it perfectly leverages the gameplay mechanic from the television game, so players get a great sense of familiarity when they start the round (or even just see the wall post).
This is how virality can be properly accessed inside a social game. The idea here is that I can ask their friends for a minute of their time to help me out, and I do so knowing it will be a good sense of fun for whoever takes my offer. That way, I feel no inhibition about posting this on my and my friends’ walls over and over. I also know that any of my die-hard friends will also be scoring points for themselves by completing the round, so they’ll have incentive to join in as well. This also leads to a great little social connection: I get to see which of my friends are willing to help me out, AND how good they are at the game.
Finally, the feature works because the Fast Money round loads up really quickly, but still has great graphics and production value means that players feel like they’re just diving into a round of Family Feud. It’s pretty impressive to click the fast round and immediately be treated to a fully voiced over slick round of Family Feud with almost no interruptions.