Remember that music industry theory about ‘1,000 True Fans’, which involves artists identifying the fans who’ll spend lots of money on their music, gigs, merchandise and so on? Well, the social games industry has its own equivalent, although it describes them by the less flattering name of ‘whales’. Business Week has a good post on this, based on stats from the recent IPO filing by the largest social games publisher Zynga. It suggests that of the company’s 2010 revenues of $597 million, between a quarter and half of those revenues are generated by less than 1% of players. That’s the kind of people who’ll spend $500 a year to customise their FarmVille farm. In social games, whales tend to be “comparatively wealthy, older players” happy to pay to avoid “the slog of achievement” in social games. “A lot of these whales don’t have the patience or time to go through all the stuff by playing,” says an exec from one of Zynga’s rivals. “They just dump in a lot of money to get ahead.” Source: Business Week –

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