Facebook rolling out games section of Timeline

gamesFacebook is adding a new section to users’ About pages on their Timeline that showcases the social games they play.

The games section is similar to the movies, books, TV and music sections launched with the latest profile redesign earlier this month. It displays the games users have recently played and all those that they’ve Liked. Users can customize the order of their About page to feature games more prominently near the top or hide it completely.

However, unlike those other sections for entertainment, the games section does not include a list of games users “want to play.”

game-collections-v1

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Facebook shares new documentation for local currency pricing, sets migration for Q3

creditsFacebook today provided updates regarding its transition from Credits to local currency pricing. The company offered new documentation for game developers and announced that migration will occur in Q3 this year.

Facebook decided to phase out Credits in favor of a user’s local currency — dollars, pounds or yen, for example — in June 2012. This allows the social network simplify the purchase experience and give developers more flexibility. Developers will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-U.S. users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis, as opposed to pricing their virtual goods in $0.10 USD increments as was required when Credits became mandatory in July 2011. This also eliminates any confusion that resulted from users trying to think about conversion rates for dollars, Credits and in-game currency.
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Facebook News Feed changes include improvements for app developers

like symbolAmong the changes Facebook announced today regarding News Feed were a number of improvements for app developers, including larger feed stories, an updated games feed and app bookmarks that are visible from any page users navigate to.

The most obvious component of the redesign is how much bigger stories and photos appear in the feed. The example below is full size.

game-story
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Facebook looks to drive players to games with News Feed modules

Facebook is testing new headlines for its latest games discovery module in News Feed to drive more users to canvas apps.

Some users are seeing versions of the module, which includes three suggested games, with the headline “Personalized games suggestions for you.” Other users have seen this module called “Games that are growing rapidly.” The original headline, “Games your friends are playing,” which was used when the module debuted in late January, is still in rotation for some users.

At least two of the three “games that are growing rapidly” as seen in the graphic below have been regularly appearing on Inside Social Games’ weekly list of fastest-growing Facebook games by monthly and daily active users.

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27M users bought virtual goods using Facebook Payments in 2012; Zynga’s influence on revenue further diminishes

gamesApproximately 27 million users bought virtual goods using Facebook Payments in 2012, up from 15 million in 2011, according to a document the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today.

Facebook generated $810 million in payments revenue in 2012. CFO David Ebersman said only $5 million of that came from sources outside of games, such as Gifts and user promoted posts. Overall, payments and other fees revenue in 2012 increased $253 million, or 45 percent, compared to 2011, despite close to doubling the number of users buying virtual goods.

That could be because of Facebook’s promotions to get more users spending money in games. Although the volume of paying users increased, it the amount new payers spend could be much less than other players. Another factor could be growth in international markets. Facebook says 51 percent of its revenue from marketers and developers based in the United States, compared to 56 percent in 2011. This figure includes advertising revenue as well, but international developers are increasingly finding success on the social network and the overall number of international users is growing much faster than in the U.S.
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Facebook to report public app usage in tiers instead of specific numbers

Facebook today announced changes to the way it reports user counts for apps and games that integrate with its platform, providing a ranking and a user tier rather than monthly active and daily active users rounded to the nearest ten-thousand, as it did previously.

Monthly active user tiers are 10,000; 50,000; 100,000; 500,000; up to 10 million. Daily active user tiers are the same but stop at 1 million. These caps mean that an app with 11 million MAU and an app with 45 million MAU will both be reported in the 10 million tier, with only their ranking number to distinguish between them.

Facebook reports these figures in its App Center, within search results and via its API. The insights developers receive about their own apps will not change. This just affects what information is publicly available to other developers and non-developers. The change goes into effect on Jan. 16.

Although Facebook is taking away some transparency, this puts it more at par with how Apple, Amazon and Google display app rankings. Apple and Amazon’s app stores rank apps by category but do not share any download or usage numbers. Google Play ranks apps and offers a range for installs: 1,000-5,000; 5,000-10,000; 10,000-50,000; and so on. However, Google Play seems to go up to 500 million installs, rather than capping its tiers at a lower number to obfuscate the data.
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Facebook introduces Game Groups via API

Facebook has made it possible for apps and games to create and manage groups for users, the company announced in a blog post Wednesday evening. This was created as a way for game developers to help players connect around clans, alliances, guilds or other game communities, but non-game apps could ultimately find use in the API as well.

With game groups, users can share content, post updates, create events and poll members, just as they can with traditional groups. However, these groups are created and controlled by a game rather than an individual user. Users can be promoted as admins if the developer wishes.

Many users already create groups to connect with people they play games with. Now with the API, games can facilitate this by inviting players to join existing groups or building the group creation process right into the game. Clans have long been a part of traditional online gaming — especially MMORPGs and online strategy games — and this could help social games be taken more seriously by core gamers. It should be noted that some games already include in-app clans groups, but these were created by the developer and don’t create an external group on Facebook.

In an overview of the feature, Facebook says, “Game Groups help make games more social and engaging by creating another place where users can interact with each other. Group social dynamics help with retention and monetization.”

Groups give users a place to share achievements and tips. When users begin to feel as though they are part of a community, they are more likely to continue playing a game. The notifications generated by Facebook groups could also serve as prompts to get users re-engaged with a game.

The feature is starting in beta for games that are listed in App Center so Facebook can monitor use and create more guidelines and best practices for developers over time. Developers can get an overview of game groups here and read reference documentation here.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook brings keyword search to App Center

Facebook is rolling out search for App Center, allowing users to not only find apps by name but also by keyword such as “cars” or “fitness.”

This change will help users better navigate App Center, which previously offered filters by category but no direct search. The main search bar in the Facebook header wasn’t always helpful, either, since it searches people, pages, places, groups and everything else on Facebook. Plus, it does not yet offer keyword search. If users don’t know the title of what they are looking for, it isn’t very helpful.

App Center is more focused on discovery and surfacing web, mobile and canvas apps that users are likely to be interested in based on other apps they’ve tried and what their friends use. App Center allows users to see photos and read details about an app before adding it. These details are now indexed in App Center search, and Facebook says there are no changes or additional requirements for developers. The company did not offer details about the search ranking system, but it is likely a combination of keyword relevance, MAU, star ratings, friend connections and more.

In a blog post Wednesday night, Facebook announced that it would allow developers to create Sponsored Results ads for their canvas apps through the App Dashboard in four steps. Developers can create more targeted search ads through the Power Editor or the API, as was available previously. Sponsored Results appear in the main search typeahead, and for now there are no ads in the App Center search module.

In early October, Facebook said 220 million people visit the App Center each month, and compared to users of the previous Apps and Games dashboard, users who discover apps through App Center are 40 percent more likely to return to the app the next day.

This post originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

App Center recommendation engine drives more repeat app users than previous Facebook games dashboard

Facebook today revealed that users who discover apps through App Center are 40 percent more likely to return to the app the next day compared to users of the previous Apps and Games dashboard.

Facebook App Center, which launched in June and became available worldwide on Aug. 1, is a personalized section of the desktop and mobile site to help users discover new apps on Facebook, mobile and the web. It focuses on surfacing high quality apps that users are likely to be interested in based on other apps they’ve tried and what their friends use.

In a note, Facebook engineers involved with App Center explained the technical challenges of building such a recommendation engine. They said App Center is similar to News Feed in that it learns users’ preferences to serve recommendations that are “timely, socially relevant and unique to them.” Demographic information, friend activity and a user’s history with apps all factor into Facebook’s app recommendation algorithm.

As for determining quality, Facebook uses a combination of star ratings and daily active user totals. Facebook conducts random sampling to collect star ratings shortly after someone has used an app. Facebook takes an app’s average rating and then includes a confidence adjustment based on the total number of ratings the app has. The company also considers an app’s average daily active users rather than monthly active since MAU can be skewed by spikes in activity throughout the month.

This recommendation engine — along with longer app descriptions, more images and additional information about which friends use an app or what in-game purchase is most popular — make App Center a better way for users to learn about apps than the previous apps and games dashboard.

Facebook says 220 million people visit the App Center each month. Users have been prompted to visit with links on the login page and above News Feed. In today’s blog post Facebook officially announced the My Apps section of App Center where users can manage the apps they’ve added and control their permissions settings — something reader Ryan Plant first pointed out to us in August.

Image credit: Ryan Plant

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

Facebook re-opens notifications channel for developers to send users custom messages

Facebook has launched the new Notifications API beta giving developers a way to reengage users with custom messages through the native notifications channel. These notifications are different from app requests in that users do not need to allow further permissions to receive them.

Developers will find many positives to this feature as it makes it easier to reach their users. However, they must beware of the possibility of overflowing users’ notifications channel. Facebook previously allowed developers to send notifications to users, but it removed the feature in early 2010 as a way to reign in spammy apps. This time around, the social network has put in more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel.

Users can accept or decline these notifications and are given the option to opt-out at any time. Facebook encourages developers to test and monitor how notifications are performing through the notifications dashboard in Insights. Developers will get information on how notifications are being received as well as turn-off rates. Exceedingly high turn-off rates may be classified as spam and will be disabled.

The company encourages developers to be mindful of the language in their notifications, suggesting that high-quality notifications receive higher click through rates than app requests. Low-quality app notifications are more likely to cause people to turn off notifications for that app all together.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Facebook.

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