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'Gardens of Time' named Facebook's most popular game

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'Gardens of Time' screenshot
Facebook has named Playdom's Gardens of Time as the most popular game on its social network in 2011, despite a controversy over the way the winner was awarded.

Playdom, which was acquired by Disney in July for more than $500m (£318m), took the top spot with its hidden object game ahead of Zynga's Cityville.

Facebook said that it geared the award towards games with the highest satisfaction scores, rather than the most monthly unique players.

However, Techcrunch challenged the move, describing it as a "snub" for Zynga's much more widely played city-building simulation, which came in third. EA's The Sims Social was in second place.

Following the challenge to its methodology, Facebook issued an amended company blog post which explained its decision.

"This list was compiled by looking at the top games on Facebook with more than 100,000 monthly active users and giving priority to those games with the highest user satisfaction scores," it said.

"The result is a list of the games that received the most user recommendations in 2011."

Facebook's top ten games of 2011:

1. Gardens of Time (Playdom)
2. The Sims Social (EA)
3. Cityville (Zynga)
4. Doubledown Casino (Doubledown Interactive)
5. Indiana Jones Adventure World (Zynga)
6. Words With Friends (Zynga)
7. Bingo Blitz (Buffalo Studios)
8. Empires & Allies (Zynga)
9. Slotomania-Slot Machines (Playtika)
10. Diamond Dash (Wooga)

Alternative data suggests that Zynga, which raised $1bn (£1.5bn) this month after floating on the US stock market, had the four most popular games on Facebook this year.

Using up-to-date analysis of monthly active users, Appdata said that Zynga's Cityville, Castleville, Farmville and Texas Holdem were the most played games, while Gardens of Time was only in 14th place.

It is understood that Cityville has 48.8 million monthly active users, while Gardens of Time attracts just 8.5m. Farmville is thought to have 32.1m monthly active users, but it did not even rank in Facebook's top ten.

Appdata's rundown of the top ten Facebook games:

1. Cityville (Zynga)
2. Castleville (Zynga)
3. Farmville (Zynga)
4. Texas Holdem (Zynga)
5. The Sims Social (EA)
6. Empires & Allies (Zynga)
7. Words With Friends (Zynga)
8. Diamond Dash (Wooga)
9. Bubble Witch Saga (King.com)
10. Indiana Jones Adventure World (Zynga)

Some people have suggested that Facebook geared its top ten so as to promote its own analytics tools for tracking personal recommendations and sharing on the world's largest social network.

Enders Analysis head of internet Ian Maude told the BBC: "You have to see it in the wider context of Facebook trying to push the viral marketing benefits of partnering with the site rather than trying to snub Zynga.

"Clearly one measure of how popular a game is is how many people are recommending it to their friends. But it is a bit strange not to rank a game as more popular if more people are playing it. It's certainly interesting if unusual."

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