At yesterday’s Facebook media event, Mark Zuckerberg and company spoke of multiple widespread changes that will be coming to the Facebook platform, affecting the way games are spread between users (both in gift requests and news feed notifications), the way bookmarks are organized, and more. Inside Facebook was there, and have given us a detailed overview of what to expect from these changes.
First and foremost, the news feed will once again be altered dramatically in terms of how game posts will be displayed. To put it simply, after the changes take effect for all users, people who do not play social games will no longer see the news feed stories from friends who do play those games. The same will apply to any other third party app. That means that from now on, if you post a free Mystery Egg from FarmVille or a lost pet in Happy Pets onto your news feed (as examples), your friends that do not play those games will no longer see them, or be “spammed” with them, as many feel is the case.
Facebook has explained its rationale behind this decision as saying that: “Tens of millions of app wall posts are deleted every day by people who find them irrelevant. By surfacing relevant stories based on usage and discovery stories based on friends, we believe we’re providing the best user experience and building lasting and long term value.”
However, this will, without doubt, damage the virality of games on the platform, as users aren’t able to see an app’s posts, and subsequently click on them because they look interesting. Facebook seems to recognize this fact, as they have also announced that when the changes go into full effect, the former collapsed, aggregated view of games posts will go away – no “games” application will have collapsed stories, but this only applies for true games, with Facebook working to police apps that misrepresent themselves as games in an effort to abuse the system.
In addition, for those who begin playing new games, a short one-lined message will be shown on other users’ feeds, allowing friends to see that a certain friend (or group of friends) has begun playing a new game, with a link available for that user to check it out for themselves.
In terms of game gift requests, the right-hand bar that currently houses gift requests will be transfered to the left-hand side of the page, in Facebook’s “Games” menu. While some members already have a similar version of this active on their accounts (or have had, in a sort of past preview), all users will soon see a number located next to the “Games” button in their bookmarks bar that will represent how many game requests they have. By clicking on this button, you’ll be able to view your active requests and interact with them as normal.
Finally, Facebook will soon implement a “smart” bookmarking system. In addition to the recent update that sees a bookmark being added to your home page for every new app that you install on your profile, in the future, Facebook will also automatically sort your bookmarks based on your usage over the last 30 days. In this way, as you come to like and play a game more frequently, you’ll be more easily reminded to continue to play due to the app’s new highlighted position on your bookmarks list.
Facebook has claimed that it wants to help encourage social gaming growth on their platform, but this seems like it might include more steps in the opposite direction than those that would foster such improvements. We’ll be sure to bring you more news about these changes as they go live, but for now, let us know what you think of these changes in the comments!
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