The social gaming space might seem to be dominated by a handful of big players, but a recent Gamasutra feature indicates that there’s room for smaller developers to succeed on a platform like Facebook too – provided they’re willing to seize opportunities, take advantage of Facebook’s unique marketing and community features, and learn from their mistakes.

HitGrab Labs’ MouseHunt earned a respectable half a million MAU (Monthly Active Users) by cultivating an active audience through constant interaction with fans. “They do a lot of the work for us,” said HitGrab owner Joel Auge. “We take care of them and they take care of us.”

Broken Bulb developed the city building sim My Town, which currently sits at around 3 million MAUS, after becoming intimately familiar with Facebook’s unique viral communications channels. As such, the features are integrated seamlessly into the gameplay instead of feeling tacked on.

The third studio featured in the piece, the now defunct GameLayers, was more of a cautionary tale about the importance of keeping up with Facebook’s rapidly changing environment and the demands of players. Both of GameLayers’ Facebook offerings, Dictator Wars and Super Cute Zoo only lasted a few months on the platform.

“Running an online game is a commitment,” said former GameLayers CEO Justin Hall. “Players have questions, suggestions, feature-requests, and things break as people use them. We couldn’t pay our staff to keep evolving our titles, so we decided to take these games down rather than offer continually diminishing service.”

Read “In The Shadow of FarmVille: How Small Studios Can Succeed In Facebook Development” in its entirety on Gamasutra.