Live From Facebook's Gaming Event

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I’m at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, where the social network is having a special press event to talk about the current social gaming landscape. We expect there to be some important announcements this evening — the event is being led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and there are myriad game developers in attendance. My live notes and a video stream are below.

Watch live streaming video from facebookinnovations at livestream.com

Facebook’s Dan Rose has taken the stage.
Talking today about changes to FB platform, user experience around games.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken the stage.

  • Today, talking about two themes: quality and apps/games. Every day almost 300 million people come to FB.com.
  • Hundreds of millions of people love games on Facebook. Hundreds of millions hate them.
  • Let’s talk about quality. We have a team called the Site Integrity/Graph Integrity team. Try to make it so that each experience people have on the site is a positive one.
  • In last two months, ‘friend spam’ — friend requests that aren’t accepted — are down 40%
  • One of biggest drivers of negative experiences has been games. But poll Facebook users, and games are in the top five. There have been at least four large companies building games. On the other hand, games are one of the biggest complaints we get. Often right up there on list of top five people wish weren’t there. How do we manage that?
  • When we turn weight of game stories in News Feed up — we get complaints. Turn it down, get complaints. We want to build and enable anything that hundreds of millions of people want to use.
  • Solutions are pretty simple: if someone is playing a game, and they want context about that game… then don’t limit stories about that game. On the other hand, if you’ve never played a certain game, then you probably don’t want to see context from a lot of friends who are playing that game.
  • Talking about how if you play a game, it should be easy to access. If you stop playing it, it should fade out of your experience.

Jared Morgenstern, PM for Facebook’s games team, has taken the stage.

  • We now have a dedicated gaming team.
  • Talking about how much he likes games. Zelda, Nintendo Power… video game colleges.
  • Top 10 games on FB have more than 12 million active users each
  • Championed building a team dedicated to games at FB. Various teams are building ‘war rooms’. Surround office with people on the project. Had idea at a hackathon to make a loft in a conference room… a gaming focus loft. Designed so you can see the faces of the people you’re playing against.
  • Doubling down on infrastructure

  • Starting with a vision…doing things with your close friends is better than doing things with strangers
  • The actual changes…:

  • Smarter bookmarks. Sorting bookmarks by actual usage. Relevance = number of days in the last 30 days that you’ve used an application. Will always be core set of services at the top (FB services) and then personalized set of features based on what the user often users.
  • Stronger reengagement channel Using blue bubbles as notifications instead of just grey text. Will make it more apparent to users.
  • Moving game requests from bottom right area of requests module, to be part of the same left sidebar.
  • Ability to retract requests.
  • Will start targeting shared stories to only users playing the same game (this is big) — no more spam about cows that you don’t care about. For users that aren’t playing a game, Facebook will show ‘Discovery Stories’. “Everett and Joey are playing Social Chess”, but you won’t see their every move.
  • Making viral loops more frictionless with policy changes.

Dan Rose is back on stage. “We recognize that some of the things that we’ve done in the past.. sent a signal that maybe we don’t care about games or thought that they should be less prominent”. We’re dedicating more resources to games. Have big team working on Credits.

Tried to do collapsing of stories earlier, but devs didn’t like it. And gamers didn’t like it either — because they only saw some of the stories they wanted to see. And people who don’t like games didn’t like it either, because they were still seeing these stories, only fewer of them.

Q&A:

Did you just say that a user playing a game can’t share a story with a user who isn’t playing that game?
A: Requests and discovery stories will be only new user channels.

Q: I have some friends that play games a lot, I know I can sort News Feed based on friends, not content. Is there thought to sort News Feed by not user, but content?
A: Jared: Games dashboard kinda sucks right now. There will be a wave of innovation around dashboard. One thing we did test is an embedded stream in games dashboard that filters content based on games you’re playing.
A: Zuckerberg:One thing we’re trying to emphasize is that this is a set of infrastructure changes that gives a base from which to build on. Someone asked can you now not publish a News Feed story to all of your friends? What we found is that most people were trying to share it with other people who were having relevant exp. in content. We may add more features to broadcast more broadly in the future. We did a lot of testing of this to make sure this balanced out to around where we were before. So if some of these seem like big swings… They are big swings in that people who play games will see a lot about games and people who don’t wont… But in testing it’s neutral in terms of ecosystem. Good base to build things from.
A: Rose: If I know two of my friends are playing a game, that’s more relevant to me than any information they might post from that game if I haven’t started playing it yet.
Q: Talk about discovery stories.
A: First set will be based on someone installing your app and playing it on an amount of time that shows engagement. Will also be controlled by privacy setting.

Are you making a Credits dashboard?
A: Yes, we’re building things that will make it easier to see what’s going on with your business.

Strategy for free credits?
A: One of goals is to increase number of people on FB who are buying virtual goods in games. One of ways we’re attempting to do that is to give free credits to users.

Last 6-8 months cost of user acquisition has gone up. How do you see credits being rolled out? Will it be a requirement?
Rose: Credits are important for users to make sure that when you buy them on FB you can use them in any game that you play. That only works in a world where all of the games accept credits. 170 games accept credits. Want to get all games accepting credits.
Zuckerberg: A lot of changes balance out two curves. One is cost/ease of getting new people on your app. Second is cost/ease getting someone continually engaged in game. Our view is that early on it was all virality. Trying to boost engagement now.

Q: Can you still target feed posts to specific users?
A: Current algo is that you can change feed form showing friend lists, won’t show up if a player isn’t playing the game. Request removal: Open Graph API call to remove all requests. Can’t do it individually.


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