With its big redesign, Facebook is rolling out its Games Dashboard for millions of game players today.
“The Games Dashboard will give game applications greater prominence with placement on the home page,” the company said in a blog post today. “While making it even easier for users to have a personalized and social gaming experience. The Games Dashboard will also provide game developers with more channels to reach users, through communication on the home page in the dashboard.”
It is a recognition of the fact that games are the most popular apps among Facebook’s 500,000 applications.
Some game publishers have worried that the Games Dashboard could force big changes in the way they design games. They also worry that it will change how fast games spread. But Gareth Davis, platform manager for games at Facebook (and a speaker at our upcoming GamesBeat@GDC conference) says the idea is to improve navigation for game fans.
The company tested the changes for months. In the dashboard, the top and left menus will help you get to what is most important to you. In the top menu, you find the newest notifications, requests and messages. The left menu is organized for you to communicate with and discover content from your friends. From your main page, you can click on Applications to see your apps, or on Games to see the Games Dashboard.
The Game Dashboard shows the apps you have interacted with most recently as well as your most recent application activity and your friends’ activity. You can see counters next to the apps that you have bookmarked on the home page. The counters tell you how many actions you have to take, like taking a turn in a game.
News items related to games will appear with actions that you have to take, like “Clean Stinky” in the Pet Society game. The features have privacy settings, so you can choose not to broadcast your actions in certain games or apps.
It may not seem like much. Simplicity is what Facebook favors. But there is a lot at stake. Facebook has to make its user interface attractive to users and avoid spam that will turn them off to the social network. But it also has to make it easy for games to spread in a viral fashion.