Updating Discovery for Social Games on Facebook With Algorithms, Better New User Experience

Developers can expect to see virality restored to social games in the latter half of 2011 as the platform adjusts its discovery methods, Facebook Director of Game Partnerships Sean Ryan tells ISG.

At Casual Connect in Seattle last month, Ryan alluded to some API changes that would help surface game stories to the Facebook users that actually play social games as opposed to spamming the News Feeds of all players’ available friend. In a recent follow-up interview with us, he details an algorithmic solution that will not only show players more stories, but also filter out only those stories that players are likely to click on.

“Last year when we made the changes because of the spam issues, we really dialed back [virality],” Ryan says. “Now that we feel confident about our automatic [filter] systems, we can start dialing back up virality with better targeting and better quality. So that if your game is sending stories through the news feed that users don’t like — they don’t click on it — then over time, the algorithm adjusts and users see fewer of those stories. We want quality to be about whether or not users like it.”

The key to this system is social discovery, something that doesn’t work for new users on the Facebook platform. This is where Ryan’s team finds itself pulled in two directions — on the one hand, wanting that user’s social graph to determine what games that user sees; and on the other, needing a Games destination site to give a new user a place to start figuring out what (if any) games they like.

The reason Ryan shies away from a Games destination on Facebook, like the version currently available, is that users expect to see lists of the 10 most popular games on destination sites because that’s what they’re used to seeing in the App Store or Android Marketplace. Ryan says these lists tend to be self-fulfilling, and the idea of Facebook dictating to a new user what they should or shouldn’t play goes against the platform’s philosophy of social discovery. Even so, he admits that there needs to be a better new user experience available to those just now entering the social games ecosystem on the platform, though Facebook hasn’t found that answer yet.

As it stands, a new user can stumble on the destination site through the Games tab (which has made several moves around the default Facebook view in the last six months) or by clicking on a Games-related post in the Facebook.com landing page like the one pictured above. The developer-oriented Facebook+Games page is also functions as a discovery tool for games new to the platform.

Beyond the end of 2011, Ryan says the team will continue to look at new games platform features that will work for Facebook. By studying other games ecosystems like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, or Kongregate, Ryan says there may be lessons to learn that could contribute to better discovery systems.

“We look at voice chat and text chat and other types of game platform features as we [plan] the next 6 to 18 months,” he says, “But we come back to our strength, which is discovery. Because it’s social.”

Strategic Mobile Marketing

Mediabistro Course

Strategic Mobile Marketing

On October 21. work with the digital strategy director for Saatchi & Saatchi to develop a marketing strategy for smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices! You’ll learn how to optimize content for mobile, create responsive landing pages, and track all mobile efforts. Register now!

 

Leave a Reply

7 Responses to “Updating Discovery for Social Games on Facebook With Algorithms, Better New User Experience”

  1. Facebook will get its groove back with better social games discovery | Cityville Secrets says:

    [...] several plans and ideas for improving the gaming experience on Facebook. During an interview with Inside Social Games, Ryan revealed that before 2011 is through Facebook will display more games-related stories to [...]

  2. Facebook Updates APIs, Canvas, Home Page to Improve Discovery, Retention, and the Games Experience says:

    [...] As promised, Facebook is also improving its automated systems behind surfacing games stories and making it easier to locate games in a centralized location. The homepage bookmarks panel has been updated so that the number and order of bookmarks in the groups and apps section changes based on a user’s habits, presumably so users who actively play more games will see more bookmarks. Users can also manually add bookmarks to a “Favorites” section, which appears at the top of all bookmarks if they want to keep a game handy despite engagement with other games. [...]

  3. Facebook Updates APIs, Canvas, Home Page to Improve the Games Experience says:

    [...] As promised, Facebook is also improving its automated systems behind surfacing games stories and making it easier to locate games in a centralized location. The homepage bookmarks panel has been updated so that the number and order of bookmarks in the groups and apps section changes based on a user’s habits, presumably so users who actively play more games will see more bookmarks. Users can also manually add bookmarks to a “Favorites” section, which appears at the top of all bookmarks if they want to keep a game handy despite engagement with other games. [...]

  4. Facebook tests “games only” activity feed, might drop canvas app live ticker says:

    [...] destination for games on Facebook — which is something the social network has tried to avoid in the past even as Google+’s rival games platform embraces [...]

  5. Facebook tests “games only” activity feed, might drop games ticker says:

    [...] destination for games on Facebook — which is something the social network has tried to avoid in the past even as Google+’s rival games platform embraces [...]

  6. Facebook replaces Apps and Games Dashboard with App Center, introduces paid app model says:

    [...] of the social network’s position on app discovery a year ago, when Facebook relied on algorithmic discovery of new apps. By creating a centralized app hub, Facebook hopes to drive more growth to [...]

  7. Facebook replaces Apps and Games Dashboard with App Center, introduces paid app model | Techack | gadgets & technology says:

    [...] a reversal of the social network’s position on app discovery a year ago, when Facebook relied on algorithmic discovery of new apps. By creating a centralized app hub, Facebook hopes to drive more growth to [...]

Get the latest news in your inbox
interested in advertising with inside social games?

Social Media Jobs
of the Day

Communications Coordinator

National Science Teachers Association
Arlington, VA

Social Media Coordinator (Part Time)

Stanton Carpet
Syosset, NY

Social Media Manager

Aeon Media
San Francisco, CA

Director of Communications

Coin Center
Washington, DC

Digital Strategies Coordinator

IslandWood
Bainbridge Island, WA

Featured Company

Join leading companies like this one and recruit from the nation's top media job seekers on the Mediabistro Job Board. Every job post comes with our satisfaction guarantee. Learn More
 

Our Sponsors

Mediabistro A division of Prometheus Global Media home | site map | advertising/sponsorships | careers | contact us | help courses | browse jobs | freelancers | content | member benefits | reprints & permissions terms of use | privacy policy Copyright © 2014 Mediabistro Inc. call (212) 389-2000 or email us