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.

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17 Responses to “Facebook Updates APIs, Canvas, Home Page to Improve Discovery, Retention, and the Games Experience”

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

    [...] >Continue reading about the changes to the Canvas page, including information on the new dedicated games ticker on Inside Social Games [...]

  2. Sheryl Barning says:

    The changes made to the Canvas page showing friends game activity is another invasion of our privacy. I do not want friends seeing when or how many times I go in and out of the games I play, nor do I want to see the same from them. When I actually post requests to the wall or send gift requests to my friends they will know. How often I play is not my friends business. This needs to be changed.

  3. Facebook Adds Game Stories to the News Feed, Privacy Settings to Limit Them says:

    [...] make its Platform more attractive, and so soon after the Google+ games news dropped, it announced several changes to how Canvas pages and bookmarks work, as well as two new viral channels: the Games Ticker and news feed game [...]

  4. Geroge says:

    Looks like TechCrunch scooped you on another update that Facebook put out, but this time didn’t provide PR around: http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/12/facebook-quietly-updates-platform-policies-developers-take-note/.

  5. Julie says:

    give us the option of not having to use this, as it makes my computer run on.

  6. brodee says:

    bring back the old way my friends need help and the only way they got my help was with the game stories

  7. Platform Update: Credits Insights, Platform Policies, App to User Request Messages says:

    [...] of flurry of announcements about changes to the game experience, Facebook recently updated the Developers Blog regarding the [...]

  8. Platform Update: Credits Insights, Platform Policies, App to User Request Messages says:

    [...] of flurry of announcements about changes to the game experience, Facebook recently updated the Developers Blog regarding the [...]

  9. Zynga Experimenting With New “Frictionless” Game Requests on Facebook says:

    [...] part of a series of updates to the games platform, Facebook has been restoring some of the virality it previously removed from [...]

  10. Facebook’s Sponsored Stories Ads Appear in the New App Ticker says:

    [...] the launch of the App Ticker earlier this month, Sponsored Stories only appeared in the ads sidebar to users browsing Facebook. [...]

  11. christina ellerbe says:

    i have this new ticker on the right side of my game. it is very annoying. it also takes up space on the farmville game. how can i remove this. please let me know. i know alot of people who do not like reading about what people are doing on games. the only thing that was good and was removed was when someone tried to share something, it would show up and i could click on it without going to my news feed page. that was very convenient and faster.

    PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Clicks of the Facebook Games Ticker Now Reveal Popovers That Could Hurt Growth says:

    [...] today, we hadn’t seen the popover feature added to the Games Ticker, which was introduced back in August with updates to Canvas Page and new APIs. The idea behind the Games Ticker is to encourage social [...]

  13. Social Discovery Works for Games on Facebook if You Trust Your Social Graph says:

    [...] Over the summer, Facebook introduced new features to the games platform that were meant to restore some of the virality lost when the social network limited game posts to the news feed. The most striking of these features so far has been the Games Ticker, a live feed displayed to the right of a game on the Canvas page. This feed displays only games stories and the occasional sponsored story, which is a contrast to the general stories and occasional games story seen in Live Ticker that now appears on the default Facebook view. [...]

  14. Facebook tests Games Only activity feed, drops canvas app live ticker, updates discovery features says:

    [...] Meanwhile, Facebook is deciding whether or not to keep the games activity ticker. The blog reports that the feature hasn’t been a significant driver of traffic and that Facebook is looking into other options “improve and simply” the games experience. Games bookmarks are here to stay for the time being, however, as Facebook reports they do drive significant traffic and re-engagement. Both features have been updated several times since launching over the summer. [...]

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

    [...] Meanwhile, Facebook is deciding whether or not to keep the games activity ticker. The blog reports that the feature hasn’t been a significant driver of traffic and that Facebook is looking into other options “improve and simply” the games experience. Games bookmarks are here to stay for the time being, however, as Facebook reports they do drive significant traffic and re-engagement. Both features have been updated several times since launching over the summer. [...]

  16. Game discovery on Facebook is still no easy task says:

    [...] come up with a reliable way to get the word about new games out to users. The game bookmarks, which launched in August, have been expanded this week to display double the games (pictured). Bookmarks, however, only [...]

  17. Facebook 2011: A Year in Review says:

    [...] made several changes to the Canvas Page, bookmarking and games stories in the news feed in order to improve game [...]

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