Facebook’s Discover New Games Module Shows Users What Their Friends Play

Facebook is a testing a “Discover New Games” sidebar module that shows several of a user’s friends who play a specific game. This new, free discovery channel could make up for some of the lost virality that resulted from Facebook closing several viral channels this year. Therefore, it could potentially help to slightly reduce the reliance of developers on marketing spend to grow their games.

The module displays the names and faces of the viewer’s friends who play a game the viewer has yet to install. The name of the game, its thumbnail icon, and a “Play Now” link appear below the facepile. When users see this implicit social recommendation by friends, they assume their must be some entertainment value in the displayed game, and may choose to click and install it.

> Continue reading on Inside Facebook.

Zynga Reveals FrontierVille Same-Sex Marriage Rate and the Value of Sexual Innuendo

Bryan Reynolds, Chief Game Designer at Zynga, revealed facts about same-sex marriage in FrontierVille and the success of sexual innuendos in his solo panel “The New Frontier of Social Gaming” at South By Southwest Interactive Conference. He noted that FrontierVille has triple the number of same sex marriages as are reported in the US, and that adults will frequently click-through and share posts containing sexual innuendos when published by games.

Reynolds also explained that  word “sex” is the most shared word on Facebook when included in posts by games and Pages, while “Facebook” comes in second. These insights can help game developers improve their viral reach and turn bland posts like “[Name] leveled up” into fun posts that engage players.

Same-sex marriage in FrontierVille was originally a bug that users discovered and immediately took to. Zynga decided to leave the option in the game, and now there are 646,000 same-sex marriages in FrontierVille. That means 3.5% of  its 18.8 million monthly active users create a same-sex marriage, according to our data tracking service AppData. This dwarfs the 150,000 same-sex marriages in the United States, showing their may be pent up demand for the public display of this type of relationship.

Game designers should consider allowing same-sex relationships in their games to allow users to identifying themselves however they want. Facebook shows this type of tolerance, recently adding civil unions and domestic partnerships as relationship options for users.

Reynolds also discussed FrontierVille’s viral success from using sexual innuendos in the form of text and images in the posts that users can share with their friends. He described how posts such as “Scott just got wood” and “Margaret needs a few good screws” receive a high click-through and share rate from adults, but don’t offend younger users as they don’t even recognize the jokes.

He described how Zynga’s data focus has helped them recognize the reach of fun posts game, and evolve from the bland Mafia Wars “[Name] leveled up” posts the company’s games use to generate. Even now that only users who already play a game see posts about that game shared by friends, reducing their virality, innuendos still helps re-engage users who’ve stopped playing. They also inspire these user to comment on the posts by friends and initiate playful discussions, making both parties feel that the game enhances their lives.

While developers need to be careful not to make sexual innuendos or other potentially objectionable content too overt, by walking the line they can make games more social. Reynolds explained “friends don’t want to know about what you’ve done in a game, they want to know something funny about you or something they can start a conversation with.”

[Image Credits: FrontierVille Info and Swd8880]

Facebook Credits GetBalance API Helps Developers Dynamically Price Virtual Goods

Facebook has released the getBalance API call as an incentive to game developers who use Facebook Credits as their exclusive premium in-game currency. The call lets developers determine the Facebook Credits balance of any of their users. This allows them to identify high rollers with a large balance of Credits and dynamically price virtual goods to increase purchase probability or profit margin, improving monetization.

Starting July 1st, all Facebook games must process payments exclusively through Facebook Credits, Facebook’s virtual currency. Developers can either use Credits as their payment method, allowing users to purchase a game’s proprietary premium in-game currency with Credits, or use Credits as their premium currency. Facebook wants developers to use Credits as their in-game currency (PDF) because it removes an extra step from the spending flow, as Credits as a payment method requires users to buy to credits to buy premium currency to buy virtual goods.

> Continue reading on Inside Facebook.


Paramount to Promote Animated Feature Film Rango with Zynga FrontierVille Tie-In

While movie studios used to focus family film promotion tie-ins in physical objects like the toys offered with fast food meals, they’re increasingly using social games as a way to raise awareness. The latest example is a partnership between Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies and Zynga to bring the new animated film Rango to FrontierVille for a week leading up to the film’s release.

From today until Mach 6th, gamers will search for chameleon Rango, ask friends for virtual goods needed to complete a branded quest, be shown the film’s trailer, and win a special virtual good. Exposure to FrontierVille’s 19.4 million monthly active users with the film’s content and main character should increase buzz and box office revenues.

Zynga previously partnered with Paramount to promote the release of the DreamWorks animated film MegaMind within FarmVille. That one-day promotion in November 2010 engaged nine million users and saw four million messages about the branded content sent by gamers to their friends, leading Paramount to seek the Rango deal. Another partnership with Universal Studios engaged 19 million Mafia Wars users over one week to promote the DVD release of crime drama Public Enemies.

Social games are emerging as a powerful vehicle for brand promotion and a significant revenue stream for developers, as we previously detailed in our article “How Brands Can Advertise Within Social Games“. While television or print advertising can get branded content in front of potential customers for a few seconds, social game audiences can be engaged with promotions for minutes or hours. Their large, interconnected audiences are a great way to seed word of mouth.

Developers have to choose their partnerships wisely, though. Diverting a production team who could be creating high-return virtual goods or new game mechanics can be costly, so developers must only accept deals where they can charge a high initial production fee and high price per engaged user. They also must ensure the promotion fits naturally within the game, or risk turning off their users. The financial details of the Rango deal have not been disclosed, though Zynga says branded promotions typically take a month to plan and build.

FrontierVille was a hit upon its release in June, with Zynga successfully cross-promoting the game on its other properties to reach a daily active user count peak of 8.9 million, according to AppData. However, since the December 1st release of CityVille, the most popular Facebook game ever, FrontierVille has slipped from 6.8 million to 5.2 million DAU to become #6 in terms of both DAU and MAU. That’s still a plentiful audience for Paramount and Nickelodeon, though.

The in-game promotion is set up as a branded quest. Users first locate Rango on the frontier, who informs them they need to save their settlement from drought, similar to the plot of the film. Users must then collect ten water buckets by sending requests to friends who also play FrontierVille. If they succeed, they are shown a trailer for the film and awarded a gold Rango statue they can display on their frontier. Since the film is set on the frontier, the promotion is a good fit and will feel like a relatively natural extension of the game.

Zynga’s Global Director of Brand Advertising Manny Anekal tells us that FrontierVille gamers are “collectors and completionists” who strive to attain all the game’s virtual goods. By offering a limited edition virtual good that can’t be otherwise won or purchased, they’ll feel compelled to complete the Rango quest. Anekal says Zynga is open to doing more promotions for films and other brands as long as they enhance gameplay.

Strategies for which social games fit with what types of brands, details on social game marketing deals including price points of startup fees and cost per engagement, and a case study of a campaign promoting Disney’s film Tron: Legacy within Booyah’s social game Nightclub City are available in the Facebook Marketing Bible, the comprehensive guide to marketing your brand, company, or app with Facebook.

TrialPay Partners With Facebook to Bring DealSpot In-Game Offers to Developers Using Credits

TrialPay has partnered with Facebook to offer its new DealSpot in-game offers API to developers using Facebook Credits. With the new integration, developers place a custom icon within their game that when clicked shows users a targeted offer to make a purchase or watch a video in exchange for Credits.

DealSpot was released in beta two months ago, and has since been integrated by 50 games from many top developers including Playdom, Crowdstar, LOLapps, Kabam, and Wooga. TrialPay also provides versions that support direct payments instead of Credits, and that can be implemented as display ads alongside games instead of within them.

> Continue reading on Inside Facebook.

Facebook Posts Implementation Details for Frictionless Payments and Buy With Friends

Facebook has released more details about Frictionless Payments and Buy With Friends — two new ways to spend its virtual currency Facebook Credits that it announced out our Inside Social Apps 2011 conference last week. Buy With Friends stories will only appear to users who play the game hosting the deal, and instructions for how developers can implement the two features has been added to the Credits API documentation.

Frictionless Payments Implementation

Frictionless Payments allows users to spend up to 30 Credits within a game without interrupting play with an “Are you sure?’ dialog. Users don’t have to go through the standard Credits interface, but instead make purchases directly through the game’s UI.

The system is one of the incentives Facebook is offering to developers that exclusively use Credits.Developers are required to display a user’s Credits balance somewhere in their app. If users have insufficient Credits to make the purchase, the app must pop up the Credits pay dialog so users can buy more. The Frictionless Payments API can only be executed within 30 minutes of a user interacting with the app.

The API call for Frictionless Payments is:

POST https://graph.facebook.com/[app id]/payments?access_token=ACCESS_TOKEN&from=USER_ID&to=APP_ID&order_details=ORDER_DETAILS

Monetization Boosts and Concerns

Frictionless Payments allows for impulse buying, and therefore increases conversion rates. Lolapps’ Ravenwood Fair has doubled its monetization, and OMGPOP’s Draw My Thing tripled its conversion rate by by implementing Frictionless Payments. Arkadium’s Mahjongg Dimensions has also implemented the streamlined purchase flow.

Developers may look to price their virtual goods below the 30 Credit cap to take advantage of Frictionless Payments. Users may grow accustomed to paying up to 30 Credits, and begin viewing anything costing more as a serious purchase that requires consideration.

There are some concerns that Frictionless Payments might lead to accidental purchases, though Lolapps chief executive Arjun Sethi has previously said that his company hasn’t received any refund requests. Others worry that malicious developers could manipulate users with system, such as rendering invisible purchase buttons within their app, causing users to spend Credits without knowing it. However, Facebook is currently only offering developer access to Frictionless Payments via an application process, and may deny developers based on their track records.

Buy With Friends Implementation

Approved developers can allow users who make in-game purchases to share a discount on the same item with their friends who play the game. Users are shown an update composer with the prompt “Unlock a [#]% off deal on this item for your friends by telling them about your purchase.” Friends can either make the discounted purchase in-line from the the news feed or follow a link and buy within the game.

Developers determine which items generate the Buy With Friends prompt when bought, the discount percentage, and the duration of the deal. Developers must configure a product and deal through the Graph API, determine if the user has access to the deal, and then may initiate the Buy With Friends flow. Developers can find sample code and a detailed description of the different purchase flows in the Buy With Friends documentation.

Impact of a New Viral Channel

Facebook says the developers who’ve tested Buy With Friends have found that “more than half of people who were offered a deal in-game decided to share it with their friends, and the engagement and conversion rates on the resulting posts were also strong.”

As there is no per unit cost for creating and selling virtual goods, discounts and sales can be a good way for developers to increase revenues. They can re-engage former players and inspire users who otherwise wouldn’t have converted to make a purchase because of the perceived value they gain from the discount.

As with other game content stories, only friends who play the same game will see Buy With Friends stories in their news feed. The feature may inspire users to form more friendships with people who play the same games as them in order to gain access to the discounts, which could increase the volume of unsolicited friend requests sent and dilute friend lists with people users don’t actually know.

Facebook hopes that the easier Credits are to spend, the more users will buy. As they are proving to support application monetization, Frictionless Payments and Buy With Friends may convince developers to accept 30% tax on Credits, which all applications will be required to use exclusively starting July 1st. Developers can apply for access to the APIs on the Credits Special Incentives support page.

Lolapps and Zynga Add TrialPay’s Credits Shortcut, Implement “Frictionless Credits”

TrialPay is working with Lolapps and Zynga to make the option to earn Facebook Credits through offers more obvious. Lolapps has also implemented Facebook’s new “Frictionless Credits” payment system into its game Ravenwood Fair. Both of these new payment flows should help the developers better monetize their games by increasing conversion rates.

TrialPay’s Facebook Credits Shortcut

TrialPay has also worked with Lolapps and Zynga to implement a shortcut to earning Facebook Credits. Previously, users had to go into the payment flow, click “Show more payment options”, then “Earn for free by shopping”, and then select from list of offers. Only certain savvy users would know how to navigate this flow, but many more are interested in earning Credits without paying. This meant a lot of lost revenue potential for developers, as well as Facebook thanks to the 30% tax it collects on Credits payments.

To remedy this, Trialpay created a shortcut that developers can currently integrate outside of gameplay, such as in banner ads or tabs. When clicked, users are immediately shown either the complete offer wall or a single especially relevant or valuable offer, allowing them to earn Credits for buying web service subscriptions, signing up for free accounts, sending Valentine’s day flowers, and more. The shortcut opens offer-earned Credits to mainstream casual gamers who might not have been aware of the option.

Ravenwood Fair uses a large “Earn Free Credits with Today’s Deal” banner below the game window. The ad opens to display a featured offer, and users can scroll to see other offers. CityVille uses a “Earn City Cash” tab at the top of the game window that opens the offer wall.

Early tests of the Credits shortcut have been promising, says TrialPay’s Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Terry Angelos. The company will soon roll out another version of the shortcut that brings offers inside the gameplay window. Developers should realize that their users might want to spend Credits, just not pay for them. If they want to convert more users, they should make earning Credits through offers a prominent option outside the standard payment flow.

Frictionless Credits Boosts Ravenwood Fair’s Monetization

Lolapps is apparently on better terms with Facebook since almost all its existing games had their viral channels blocked for six months starting in October. Facebook offers incentives for developers who exclusively use Credits, including the opportunity to beta test new products. The company has exclusively used Facebook Credits since March 2010, qualifying for the beta program of Frictionless Credits.

The system allows users to instantly spend up to a few dollars worth of Facebook’s virtual currency without an “Are you sure?” confirmation. The beta partnership gave Lolapps early access to documentation on the feature so it could implement Frictionless Credits last week — just two days after the feature was announced.

Lolapps CEO Arjun Sethi says Frictionless Credits keeps “the payment flow part of the game, and it’s less distracting for the users. We’ve seen about a 2x increase in monetization.” Even though a quick misclick could cause a purchase, Sethi says there hasn’t been anyone calling for refunds. “We thought a lot of people might do it by accident, but no one’s had any issues with it.”

Other developers have had success with Frictionless Credits as well. OMGPOP’s implementation on Draw My Thing has tripled its conversion rate. We expect Zynga to implement it shortly.

Frictionless Credits is good for business, so developers using Credits should probably implement it, and those who aren’t should factor it into their decision of whether to voluntarily switch to Facebook Credits before the July deadline.

ISA 2011: Live-Blogging the Mergers and Acquisitions Landscape for Small and Mid-Size Developers

In the last panel of Inside Social Apps InFocus 2011, we’re examining the merger and acquisition landscape for small and mid-size developers.

The panelists:

Terence Fung, Head of Corporate Development, Zynga
Sean Ryan, Director Games Partnerships, Facebook (former EVP and GM Games, News Corp)
Atul Bagga, VP Equity Research – Games, ThinkEquity
Raph Koster, VP Creative Design, Playdom (former President, Metaplace)

EE: What do you do if you’e a game developer and you’re considering merger and acqusition options?

RK: I hope you get into the business because you have a passion for entertaining people. Hopefully you’re not here just to merge and acquire and sell. What makes you valuable is being good at being an entertainer. It’s a creative business that’s driven by passion.

EE: Why did you sell?

RK: It’s so dependent on the circumstances. Are you reaching your goals? Are you bored with what you were doing? Were you running out of money? There are plenty of reasons someone would want to sell. It’s far too personal a question to give a blanket answer.

EE: Why did you sell to Playdom?

We had pivoted from doing a UGC virtual world we’d been working on for three years, then we pivoted to doing social games and got to touch more users in one day than in three years as a virtual good. Playdom said, “you can touch even more, we can help you.”  It was the opportunity to touch a lot of people and it was an exciting time in entertainment.

SR: The standard console cycle is 7 years long. We believe as a company that this is only the beginning of what the social ecosystem is.

We cut back on virality, but we’re going to be expanding the ecoystytem this year.  The question is ‘are you making something in an area that’s growing?’ We’re gonna grow the game business, Apple and Google are going to build their games businesses. What the best way to maximaize creativity? Value to investors?  To your self?  [The market] slowed down a bit, had some very big outcomes. Now people are looking to see if it is slowing down. There’s growth amongst the mid-size developers.

Is the ecosystem you’re in growing? Can I raise money? Can I get profitable quickly? Can I grow, if not you should sell, if you can, you should invest in your business.

[Facebook] has more plans and features coming.

AB: What we’re seeing in the social gaming industry – there are RPGs, there’s a lot of space to explore. Mobile is just getting going, monetization has only been 1 or 2% – a huge opportunity. The space is going to evolve – we estimate to be a 12 billion dollar market over the next 5 years.

EE: Zynga’s been buying a lot of comapnies since launch – from the guys who did FarmVille to people making RPGs. What’s next?

TF: We manage a large pipeline of opportunities. We look at lots of games studios. We encourage anyone witha an app, technology, or product that’s intersting to come to us. We believe there are synergies. You might not seem like they fit with Zynga, but we have a tactical view of where we’re going in the next 6 months.

EE: What do you tell people like RK?

That’s exactly how you should look at it. We tell people thinking about joining Zynga that we have network operations, analytics, recruiting. As a manger of a company you would be thinking about payroll, but if you’re about making a big game, that’s an ability we can integrate. Come work with really smart talented people, come join Zynga.

EE: We’ve seen toolbars do well, where games can share traffic with each other. Are there other platform service providers or non-gaming companies that have a lot of potential right now?

TF – There’s a lot of dislocation in the market. People are trying to get a steady feel for the market. Applifier is a good example of the disruption in the market. Overtime, developers gravitate towards a network with signifcant power behind it. We’re trying to create a Dog-powered network – when you see the dog (Zynga’s mascot) on Facebook or mobile, you equaite it with fun. We’re working with independent developers to bring innovative things into our business.

SR: [Upon acquisition}, there’s a tendency to pull features. When google bought social gold, people held their breath to see what that meant. When Apple released Game Center – what did it meant to OpenFeint? You need to move either faster or get bought or just be differenet enough. Lots of ways value creation opportunites. The things that a are closer to a platform tend to have the platform (replicate) them. But OpenFeint have continued to thrive, despite Game center.

EE: Were all those [acquisitions] worth it?

TF: Yes, I’m dead serious.

EE: Even with people leaving quickly?

TF: All of the acquisitions were very positive. What we encourage is for any acquisition target who considers us to speak with other people who’ve joined about the good, bad, and hopefully not too much ugly, and come in with eyes wide open.

EE: Do you feel burned by some acquisitions in the past?

TF: Is buying struggling games makers a good or bad strategy? We see that there’s a large pipepline of struggling developers. It is a challenging market, not that there aren’t talented teams and founders. We look for people who’ve looked at their mistakes, say “this is how I messed up. We wanted to focus on a feature and it didn’t really produce DAUs.” But we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

EE: If you’re starting a new gaming company, do you start on Facebook, Mobile, iOS, Android?

SR: If you’re building something social, why not build on the biggest social network that’s still growing like crazy. But not all games are social. Angry birds on Facebook wouldn’t make a lot of sense. What’s the type of game you’re building? Fit it into a platform that makes sense.

AB: If you believe games are moving to persistent games that you can only play 2 or 3 at a time, then you want to allow users to stay in contact with the people they play with across devices. It is going to be more about a multi-channel aporach and less about one channel.

EE: TenCent and other Chinese developers have done experiments in the US, but when are they going to come to the U.S. and buy someone big?

SR: 2010 was first time growth has slowed, so people are looking for how to grow. The Chinese have some of the best expertise on running games. On Facebook we’ve created this huge army of users for free to play games.  There might be 10% with the gamer instinct, and they’ve greaduated and want to play something more hadcore than a simulation. The Chinese will be looking for designer talents. What works in the U.S. may or may not work in China. The only non-Chinese games that is successful is World of Warcraft. In the U.S. we’re not familiar with their stories, so they’ll be looking for content, for expertise.

EE: Do you see the Chinese focusing internally or buying small or mid-size developers.

AB: They are sitting on a big cash balance so I wouldn’t be surprised to see people making a big acquisition in the next 12 months. Take 2, Electronic Arts could be places they could look for designer talent.

EE: You see big gaming companies making moves>

RK: There are some making moves. The story that’s most interesting is Ubisoft. They tried a half-dozen games and a lot didn’t hit and they just kept trying. It’s symptomatic of any large indutry shift that old companies will have trouble adjusting to a new landscape, and this is a very new landscape. We’re talking about companies who’ve hardly gotten into digital distribution. They have a lot to learn about how to weave their DNA into a [social] company. That’s the ultimate goal of M&A, to reshape the DnA of your company to bring new expertise into every level.

EE:Any psecific advice for new developers?

RK: Ubisoft did the right thing buy trying, learning, trying again, and being willing to be patient. You either build or you buy. If you buy it, you need to leave it alone and learn as much as you can from it. There’s a history of acquiring and not using the acquisition very well. It takes patience , you can’t turn an organization of that size on a dime.

SR: When I was at NewsCorp we started a games unit, acquired Making Fun to get up to speed. Packaged game companies [could] buy a 20-peson company.

As DeNA did with NGMOCO, or Disney – they wanted to make a big play, take a big swing. I think the Chinese will tend to buy smll. We’ll see if they play something big and say  “now you’re in charge” like DeNA dd with NGMOCO.

EE: You track a lot of markets. What would you do different?

AB: Success is open to definition. In a short-term view, acquisitions may not be successful. Disney acquiring Playfish wasn’t about driving the net year revenue, but a longer term view.

Just to step back, the console gaming market was up 35% during the dot come bust, up 30% when the whole economy was down 5%. Now it is down 10% a year. Businesses need to leapfrog the conslole and get into the next level. Social flows beyond games into monetizing media across your brand.

EE: Physical promotions opportunities are all over the place. Are you looking to long established intellectual property lines for how you’re going to build Zynga in the future?

TF: Zynga is firing on all cylinders, identifying brand sponsorships like Farmers Insurance, State Farm, and helping promote some movie releases, but I don’t see the need to make the next Tron game considering our ability to knock out successful new intellectual property.

Audience Question: Like everyone, we’re  looking for funding and support. Where in the game development cycle does an idea need to be to attract someone like Zynga or angel funding?

SR: Publishing is coming back into vogue. You need someone to fund it, someone with expertise. The developer itself needs the help of a larger partner, even if they’re a great studio. They should focus on making a great game, let someone else focus on things that detract from mking a great game. Numerous folks like Zynga and NewsCorp look at the game, see if a game fits into their portfolio. There’s options to own it , fund it, or publish it.

RK: Here’s the dev-centric answer, practical advice. If this is your first game , then don’t build your dream game. Take the first game as a learning opportunity. Start building something that will be fun. Launch as quickly as you can. Learning from that will help you go chase the deals. It iss easy starting out to try to build something ambitious when you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Might not be what you want to do, but launch something relatively simple.  Doesn’t meean it can’t be awesome.  Launch it, start building a following, learn the lessons, that gives you the leg up to start swinging for the fences, what you believe in. Companies will want to know,  “do they know their stuff? Can they execute – that’s always what matters – and do you have something fun and playable for your second idea. Can you show it to someone who doesn’t know the difference beteween PHP and Perl, between bitmap and vector graphics.

I would grab a free edition of UNITY or flash – I did it perosnally – I built the first the first iteration of my game with Blitz Basic (audience applause). While looking for funding, I was able to show blue spots log into an MMO space. Then said, “I think I might just launch this”, and then I got funding.

Audience question: Should people go work at Zygna, or get some experience first before they go try build their own game?

TF: Were not going to take a leap of faith on someone with no experience building games. There are some strong game designers who haven’t stepped into the social game world. I think they have great potential at Zynga

EE: What do you think about buying a smaller traditional game studio?

TF: It’s hard because of how fast we iterate. We have real time strategy game people. There are obviously traditonal game developers dabbling in social and mobile.

Audience question: If you’re thinking about about getting into social, would you build your own thing or look to get hired?

RK: I’ve been bitten buy the entrepreneur bug now.  If you think you can get the learning on your own – and you can if you have the will and the discipline -there’s no reason not to try it your self unless you want to work with a specific great designer in the space. Coming at it as a traditional game designer, at GDC, social game designers were booed. They were called a soulless exercise based on metrics. There is a lot to learn from metrics, but metrics are just a fast way to do play testing.

It may be harder to dive into an organization that knows it already because there may be a lot of culture clash. If they understand what you bring as a traditional designer, it can be a great marriage.

Audience question: The game that are successful right now are more of the same. What about games that are really agaisnt the grain, out of left field . What do you look for?  –

SR: Wer’re looking for as diverse a platform [as possible]. PVP, arcade, etc so that all types of gamers will find something that really interests them. Sports games are doing well on Facebook, they’re montetizing really well. Focus on the top 5 DAUs is a soulles excerise. The better games that we’ve seen come from small developers who are really passionate about the core, or things we don’t normally associate with the platform.

Audience question: As a young developer studio, what are the gotchas that we should look out for?

TF: Teams that hav been slamming their heads against the wall for two years on a new product, who haven’t shown abiliy to learn from their mistakes is the #1.

SR: It is very specific to what the company is looking for in an acquisition. Building another city game right now is not going to work well. If you’re a PVP game and saying “this is why it works, here’s the data”. It might not get you to 100 million users, but will help you get acquired or funding.

TF: Zynga isn’t looking for specific game types, we’re looking for intelligence we can integrate into the company. New IP out of the box is great if it can be transferred to other IPs. We have a network of users and we want to get the fun to them.

What are stock option pitfalls companies being acquired should look out for?

RK: Get a good lawyer

SR: There’s this movie called The Social Network…

RK: There’s a lot of blogs. I tried to read as much as I could. My best advice, find people who’ve been through it before who you trust who can guide you. Trying to learn it on your own can be incredibly difficult. You can’t overestimate the value of advisors.

SR: Having a good lawyer who has been through this many times who can tell you what’s typical.

Facebook Testing “Pay Later” Option for Virtual Goods

Facebook is testing a “Pay Later” option for purchasing goods within social games. Users who have never purchased Credits before can spend Credits they haven’t paid for and repay the balance later. Users can only repay a balance with a credit card or PayPal, not offers, gift cards, or mobile payment. Therefore, the option may be designed to get users to comfortable with buying virtual goods and get them to put their credit card or PayPal details on file with Facebook for quick purchasing in the future.

Facebook has signed deals with all the top social game developers including Zynga to make Credits the exclusive direct payment method. With plenty of games that accept Credits, the biggest barrier to users actively spending is getting their payment information on file. Pay Later, which seems to only be available for some users in some games, addresses this barrier. We obtained this information via an industry source and are currently unable to access the option ourselves.

When a user who has never bought Credits goes to purchase a virtual good, they’ll see a dialogue pop-up asking if they want to pay later and have “Facebook send you a bill for [price of the good in local currency].” They’ll then see their negative Credits balance in red with a link to “Repay” while playing games or using the Games dashboard. Users also receive a receipt for the purchase via email with a link to settle their balance.

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Facebook Updates Wording on Game Requests and Refines the Games Dashboard

Facebook has changed the wording of the buttons on game requests. The Games Dashboard also shows a dedicated feed called Game Stories for news feed stories about games. These changes will increase transparency and reduce friction for users installing and playing Facebook games

Game Stories and the new button wording come in the wake of Facebook reshaping its developer platform. Since then, news feed stories about in-game content are only shown to others that play that game, while non-gamers only see app discovery stories; game requests appear within the Games Dashboard.

The button to confirm a game invitation or in-game request used to read “Accept” but now reads “Accept and Play”. As clicking the button opens the game, this wording more accurately reflects what happens when users click and should reduce the chances of users unexpectedly starting a game.

Game Stories aggregates stories about games from a user’s news feed to a single, central location. This helps users to quickly find gifts and in-app requests from friends. Users can see stories about all games in one feed, or use tabs or a drop-down menu to view stories from one specific game.

At the Platform announcement event, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that “one of the biggest drivers of negative experiences has been games. All these people who want to play games, and all these people who don’t want to play”. By making the Games Dashboard a way to handle all of a users’ gaming interactions, they don’t have to sort through irrelevant content to find what they need, and experimenting with playing games will be a less daunting experience.

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