The game, which launched in January, had a high of 2.5m active users, but this past month, according to AppData, was down to below half that – about 1.248m – in the past month. Daily active users are also vastly down, registering less than 100K the past few days.
Diner Dash is Playfirst’s only other Facebook game. The other one, Chocolatier, is also closing down.
The Diner Dash franchise launched in 2003, and has expanded at a steady clip ever since, releasing multiple sequels for numerous systems.
Analysis: Hear that sound? That’s the sound of the “social” gaming bubble starting to take on a little bit of air.
If anything, this points to the flaw in models like the one on Facebook that have an emphasis – or an outright reliance – on “freemium” content: once the players get bored, the game is screwed. Personally, I shed no tears for Playfirst in this case; they went away from what worked to try to squeeze more money out of what is a mediocre franchise, and there’s a perverse part of me that is glad it failed.
Where my concern lies is in the people who actually paid for goods on this particular game. When you pay for Diner Dash for, say, the DS, it’s yours to keep, forever. But this free to play crap relies on purchasing virtual goods. Virtual goods, as we’re seeing, on a game that can be pulled with little notice. It’s not like these customers will be refunded; they have their customers’ money, and their customers are left in the lurch.
The “freemium” business model has been likened to “whale hunting”, which is the term that casinos use to denote well-funded customers that spend a lot of money. The difference is that if a casino stops getting whales, they don’t just close up and make everyone else’s chips completely worthless. Let the buyer beware in this business model, especially the whales, who will have dropped a lot of money when companies pull the rug out from under them.
EDIT: The original article ridiculously mentioned Playfish as the company behind Diner Dash. The company in question is Playfirst. I have edited this piece, and posted a public retraction here.