People don’t want to install and give data permissions to games, they want to play them, so now Facebook is allowing games to be played directly from within news feed or Timeline stories. These previews give gamers a taste and could get them over the install hurdle once they’re already addicted.
Facebook has to keep delivering growth for apps to get developers to stick around, or better yet, build for it first. Feed gaming could be a big selling point that could get devs to prioritize Facebook’s canvas over iOS, Android, Chrome web store, and other platforms that force people to download and install before the fun starts. Some of Facebook’s most popular games are already using this tactic, and you can try it out here for Angry Birds, Bubble Witch Saga, and Idle Worship.
Facebook tested feed gaming with Angry Birds earlier this month, but now any games can publish playable feed stories. They show up with a little play button over a thumbnail image in the feed or timeline, but instead of starting up a video, a flash embed of the game opens up. You can instantly start flinging birds, shooting bubbles, popping penguins or whatever. When the game round finishes, you’re often prompted to click through and install / give permissions to the full version.
You can try out feed gaming here for Angry Birds, Bubble Witch Saga, and Idle Worship.
This is going to work. The friction of having the decide whether a developer deserves your data can’t be understated. It probably drives away a ton of potential gamers. Even though most games are freemium and don’t cost anything to download, the try before you buy option means you don’t have to invest until you’re more sure you’ll actually enjoy a game.
Expect this to become a core part of the growth strategy for Facebook games. Developers will need to decide how to distill their games into a 30-second mini-experience. For some twitch games that will be easy, but for deeper strategy games it will be a challenge. They’ll also need to come up with hooks like “beat your friend’s high score” or “earn extra virtual goods by playing from the feed”.
I think people still feel guilty playing Facebook canvas games. These aren’t mobile where you can justify playing because you’re doing so on the move when you’re unable to be productive. These are web games that may be distracting you from your work, or at least communicating with your friends. When you click a link and the first thing you see is a permissions prompt, that guilt is triggered, and you shy away instead of installing.
By delaying the guilt trip data permission until after you’re already having fun, you’re much more likely to speed through the install process to get your next gaming fix. Even the most studious, serious, buttoned down business men are now going to try Facebook games, and some will end up installing and paying.