Facebook Updates APIs, Canvas, Home Page to Improve Discovery, Retention, and the Games Experience
Facebook posted updates to its developer blog today detailing changes to the Canvas Page, Graph APIs and bookmarking, and games stores in the news feed. The changes are designed to improve game discovery, retention, and user experience. features that better surface games stories.
Canvas Page Changes
As you can see from the screenshot, game discovery is now available through Bookmarks that appear at the top of the right-hand corner of Facebook while users are playing games. The Bookmarks with red numbers indicate apps without outstanding requests, prompting the user to click on the Bookmark for quicker re-engagement with games requests.
Below that is the real-time activity ticker dedicated to stories about a user’s friends engaging with games. The stories include traditional game stories, as well as automatically-generated games stories created when a player’s friends start using a game, or consistently use the same app.
You’ll notice the example displays a “high score” story; this comes from updated Graph APIs that allow developers to generate games stories whenever a user completes an in-game achievement, passes a friend’s score, or reaches a new rank on the leaderboards. These stories could help increase virality and discovery without interrupting the game experience with prompts to share.
The final component to the module above is the Fluid Canvas. This allows developers to expand the size of their apps based on a user’s screen resolution. When enabled, the app can be left-aligned to take up the full height and width of user’s browser. This should give users an optimized experience regardless of whether they’re playing on a large desktop setup or a small laptop.
Home Page Changes
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.
Facebook is also changing how game stories appear in the news feed. This could improve discovery for all Facebook users after nearly a year of non-gamers only seeing the occasional story about a friend installing a new game. “We’ve begun rolling out a new ranking system that better surfaces app stories to the people who will most likely to engage with it, including those who don’t already use the app.
Games that publish stories that receive high volumes of Likes and comments will be more likely to have their stories appear in the news feed, while those whose stories are often hidden from the feed or marked as spam will be less likely to appear. Depending on how the system is tuned, it could reduce the reliance of developers on paid marketing channels.