Zynga’s CityVille continues to set records, becoming the first Facebook game to break 100 million monthly active users.

100 million monthly active users (MAU) is an impressive mark, especially when measured against the roughly 57 million MAU brought in by FarmVille, also a Zynga release and previously the high-water mark for Facebook games. CityVille, in which players become mayors of online cities and grow them into bustling metropolises, has experienced phenomenal growth since it launched on December 2, 2010, surpassing FarmVille’s MAU on December 24. It’s a huge hit no matter how you look at it, but it may not be quite the all-out success story it first appears.

CityVille’s “stickiness,” which measures daily active users (DAU) as a percentage of monthly active users, is considerably lower than that of FarmVille. At FarmVille’s peak it had well over 30 percent stickiness and is currently running at around 26 percent; CityVille, on the other hand, has a stickiness of only 19 percent. According to Inside Social Games, DAU is generally considered to be much more important than MAU, “especially as a determiner of revenue.”

CityVille’s numbers also got a big boost thanks to it being the first Zynga game localized for international audiences, something that still hasn’t been done for FarmVille. More than half the CityVille player base is located outside of North America.

What’s it all mean? CityVille is a big hit, but not entirely without caveats. Growth has slowed from an average of three million MAU per day to about one million, despite continued hard pushing by Zynga. It may very well peak soon, if it hasn’t already, and early estimates that CityVille could hit 125 million MAU are starting to look a little overenthusiastic. Still, it’s hardly bad news; these are numbers that other Facebook developers can only dream of. For now, at least, the Zynga machine shows no signs of slowing.

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