Booyah had its first hit last year with MyTown, the real-world Monopoly-like game for the iPhone. MyTown won accolades and repeat players, was talked up as a faster-growing location-based game than Foursquare and now has 2.5 million active users. So the stakes were high when the company looked to move to another platform — nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. For its latest launch, the iFund-backed Booyah actually went stealth, pushing its new run-your-own-concert-venue game Nightclub City on Facebook with no acknowledgment it had made it. But even so, Inside Social Games named it the best Facebook game of 2010, so far.
Now Booyah is stepping forward and acknowledging rumors it was behind the app. In eight weeks, Nightclub City has accumulated 4.5 million monthly active users. That’s a particularly significant accomplishment for two reasons: 1) It’s a time when many top Facebook games are losing users and 2) Even so, it’s widely assumed that the Facebook gaming landgrab is over and it’s now nearly impossible to break into the leaderboard.
Booyah CEO Keith Lee, whose team comes out of creating established gaming franchises at companies like Blizzard, said his company’s success on Facebook came from the fact that “we weren’t married to mechanisms other people were used to.” Booyah’s mission is to create virtual editions of real-world entertainment and as a rule it designs around long-term engagement rather than virality, Lee said (we’ll have to see if that philosophy holds strong in future stats).
Though the “stealth launch” worked, it’s not too likely Booyah will do it again, Lee said. For its next property, the company hopes to launch an integrated experience from the get-go. Now that Booyah has beachheads on iPhone and Facebook, it can use them to cross-promote and start to form a unified development process for mobile and the social web. But that’s something other game developers, such as the reportedly Google-backed juggernaut Zynga, are planning to do, too.
Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my bio.