How will Facebook's newest changes affect gamification?

How will Facebook's newest changes affect gamification?

Summary: If you're at all interested in the world of social and casual games, and the gamification of social media, the stream of major and minor changes from Facebook over the past week or so has got to be top of mind. Besides the major F8 developer conference, which introduced Timeline and an updated version of Open Graph, we've also seen the introduction of Facebook subscriptions and an updated news feed in the past few weeks.

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If you're at all interested in the world of social and casual games, and the gamification of social media, the stream of major and minor changes from Facebook over the past week or so has got to be top of mind. Besides the major F8 developer conference, which introduced Timeline and an updated version of Open Graph, we've also seen the introduction of Facebook subscriptions and an updated news feed in the past few weeks.

Most of the news seems fairly positive, especially around how game updates can be handled. While social game updates are considered by some to be an annoying part of the social media stream, that doesn't mean we should only have an all-or-none set of options. So now, instead of being forced to choose between seeing game updates in your main news feed or not at all, they can now be safely relegated to the ticker, a real-time stream of new updates, including both ones you and Facebook consider important, as well as more granular updates (such challenges won, comments left on other posts, etc.). Game updates can now go in this new ticker feed, located in the far right corner of the Facebook window, so they can be seen and perhaps acted upon, without needlessly spamming everyone's main news feed.

At the F8 conference last week, the main example used to demonstrate this new functionality was a game of Words With Friends from Zynga. Not only will games between your friends show up in the Ticker stream, but you can hover over the update to get a live view of what the current word being played is, and even click on the thumbnail to watch the game in a larger window.

We're already seeing interesting new Facebook implementations from media companies such as Spotify and Netflix, and being able to watch or join someone's social game experience right from the real-time ticker can only lead to good things for games looking to penetrate into the friends lists of current players. The Sims Social, for example, seems like a perfect example of a game that could benefit from this kind of sharing (not that a already very popular game really needs any additional help).

Open Graph will also lead to a new language for audience interaction. Instead of just being able to "Like" something, you'll soon be able to "Read," "Buy," or more importantly, "Play," something on Facebook, helping separate games from other types of social shared content. At the very least, some of the new Facebook changes should help reintroduce the idea that these game experiences need to have a viral component to them, building an audience based on the chained recommendations of friends of friends of friends.

What do you think? Will the latest version of Open Graph and Facebook's other new features significantly help game makers? Or, if not, what does Facebook need to do to keep its game-playing audience, and game-making partners, happy?

Topics: Social Enterprise, Mobility

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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  • RE: How will Facebook's newest changes affect gamification?

    Thoses new features will definelty help the social game designers. With this new Ticker stream, the live co-op actions into a game will exist. It won't be some "a-synchronous" action between two players (like "your friend needs a tool") but imagine some action that need to be done by several players at the same time ("Your friend A is entering the dungeon with friend B and friend C, follow them now !"). It will become more social and I guess the viral loop will be more effective for game designers.
    Pixalion
  • RE: How will Facebook's newest changes affect gamification?

    There are two questions raised in this article -- how will Facebook's newest changes effect gamification, and how will Facebook's newest changes effect social gaming companies. I'll respond to the first, since that's the title of the article.

    What Facebook's new design does well is display information about what you've done on Facebook and other sites that have deeply integrated their experience into Facebook's new open graph (like Spotify, Washington Post Social Reader, etc.) By giving companies additional verbs to track via the new open graph, now companies like Spotify can display when users "listen to" a song, and WP can showcase the stories you've "read."

    However, a lot of the changes hurt the opportunity for companies and brands to increase engagement on their experiences. Let's face it, not every brand in the world is going to be or wants to be Spotify -- that is, not every brand wants their entire engagement strategy to be driven by the whims of Facebook. Spotify's business model is largely based on getting people to sign up to listen to music, and then convince them it's worth it to pay $9.99 a month to have mobile and offline access to these songs -- so displaying music your friends are listening to in real time on Facebook to get more adoption of Spotify makes complete sense for them. It's still limited in that there will be dilution of brand as more and more apps get added to the new Facebook, and ultimately Spotify and the other apps will need to invest heavier in adding social and gamification features into their own platform.

    But what if you're an eCommerce brand, or an education brand, or any brand that isn't so cut-and-dry a fit for the new Facebook? Because there is so much going on, either you jump in the giant pond of brands bobbling about and hoping for attention, or you wisely look internally at your own brand-owned web properties and apps to drive engagement there, seeing Facebook as an extension of your strategy, not your sole social strategy.

    Before f8, my company Badgeville introduced The Behavior Graph and Social Fabric -- a new software as a service technology that is built to give any site the ability to become a social network. We believe that companies shouldn't have to give Facebook their audience data in order to drive engagement. Facebook is important in a social strategy, but if you send all your traffic to Facebook, with that you're sending all of your deep insights and your control over how long-term user loyalty. For businesses, we send this control back to the marketer and brand. Ultimately, this ties into the company's gamification strategy -- to track behavior, measure behavior, and drive behavior using rewards, status, and surfacing social behaviors. For more information visit us at www.Badgeville.com
    Adena DeMonte
  • RE: How will Facebook's newest changes affect gamification?

    With the new changes, its great that applications get to broadcast more verbs like listening, buying, reading etc. on to Facebook. Its certainly a way of getting more eyeballs onto your site and advertise your brand or application.

    Here's what marketers need to think about though. These application related activity feeds are mostly restricted to the right hand ticker. The real estate as you may have noticed is really tiny and you're competing with other apps and brands to get your footprint on that limited space. In short you can advertise more end user actions but now your real estate is more limited than ever before.

    Shortly prior to f8, Facebook changed how game related (facebook apps to be more specific. http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/11/facebook-revamps-app-canvas-page-includes-ticker-for-game-updates/) updates are surfaced. They're more hidden than ever before too. Only when you're playing a game you will see updates around what you're friends are playing, who has leveled up and other updates in a right hand side ticker display.

    In short, all these changes seem to be a step in the right direction to enhance end user experience for Facebook's users, but not for marketers or gaming companies. I predict that apps in general will see a big drop in likes, shares and incoming Facebook generated traffic.
    manjeera