Justin Smith had an interesting slide deck at the Social Games Summit where he shared his estimates for monthly ARPUs (average revenue per user):
- “good Facebook” – $0.30 – $0.40
- “good MySpace” – $0.60 – $0.70
Some games can do much better. The Facebook game Battlestations shared some data in late 2008 where they appeared to have around a $1.00 ARPU, although their total user base was much smaller than the active player counts of the big Zynga or Playfish games. Three Rings Puzzle Pirates, a virtual goods-based game outside of the socnet platforms, has reported getting a monthly ARPU of around $1.50.
I had been guess-timating an average social game figure of around $0.25, so was glad to see that the industry is hitting better numbers.
Within the virtual worlds space, there is quite a range. My guess for Habbo Hotel gives them an ARPU of around $0.65 (based on a few data points: 2008 revenue of $74M, growth of registered users from 86M to 126M, and a guess that their monthly uniques grew from about 8M to 11.5M over the year). Smallworlds disclosed that they were on track to hit a $1.40 ARPU. For IMVU, I estimate an ARPU of $1.62 (based on registered users of 35M, an active-to-registered ratio of 3%, and $1.7M monthly revenues from virtual goods). Second Life (which Jeremy Liew estimated at $9.30) and the more “hardcore” free-to-play MMOGs tend to range between $5.00 and $10.00.
I should note that there is no definitive standard for what “ARPU” really means. When I am working on P&L forecasts for ESC clients, I focus on a notion of “unique active players” who engage with the game/world at least once that month. While I focus on conversion rates and average-spend-per-paying-player (or types of player), these ARPU guesses provide a useful sanity check.