SAN FRANCISCO — At the 2013 Game Developers Conference, Facebook took a whole day to whisper sweet nothings to its community of third-party developers, many of whom feel the company continues to push their products to the side to please nongaming Facebook users.
Games have long been a double-edged sword for the social network. “We never anticipated games would be the major use case [for Platform],” said Facebook games partnerships director Sean Ryan from the GDC stage at Moscone Center.
In earlier days, Facebook was wide open to game developers, and virtual livestock requests darkened the digital sky, so to speak.
But community backlash made the company revise the channels to find “the right balance of virality and effectiveness.” For games to work on Facebook, Ryan said, all three parties – developers, users, and Facebook – have to get something out of games.
As soon as games got toned down, user satisfaction went up — and developer satisfaction went down.
Today, he said, the desktop business is healthy and growing; hardcore and mid-core games (as opposed to casual and social) are on the rise; and multiplatform games that work on mobile OSes, desktop, and the web are the new normal.
“We care about desktop because it’s big, it’s growing, and we can make it grow faster,” he said.
Currently, desktop games comprise an $18 billion business, with Facebook taking a $3 billion share and aiming for a $2 billion payout for the current year.
“We’re gonna grow the desktop business because it’s good for Facebook, it’s good for users, [and] it’s good for developers.”
Here’s a snapshot of the financials and other figures behind desktop gaming:
Growing the platform and its market share, Ryan continued, lies largely in geographic expansion and a relatively new focus on hardcore and mid-core games. This ain’t FarmVille, and it’s not your mama’s casual social time-suck. These kinds of games are adventures, shooters, brawlers, strategy games, and casino games. They might not take as much time commitment as the latest historical war console experience, but they’re more competitive than Pretty Pet Salon and its ilk.
The other great thing about hardcore/mid-core games is that, unlike casual social games, they generally speaking don’t organically lend themselves to oversharing or spamming, hence helping devs and Facebook alike reach the level of nongamer ire that’s previously cause the network to back off games altogether.
And finally, Ryan said, smartphone and tablet tie-ins are hugely important in 2013 to keep gamers engaged and playing no matter how far they roam from their desktops.
Games will have their own section in the new Timeline, as well.
Here are some stats Facebook sent over about Platform games:
- More than 250 million people are playing games on Facebook.com each month.
- As of February, 55 percent of top 400 iOS apps are integrated with Facebook.
- Last month, Facebook drove 263 million clicks to the Apple App Store and Google Play, from mobile News Feed.
- 20 percent of daily Facebook web users play games on Facebook.com.
- Game installs (on Facebook.com) are up 75 percent since this time last year (when compared to March 2012).
- About 200 games on Facebook.com have more than 1 million monthly active users each
- More than 100 developers generated over $1M on Facebook last year.
- Year-over-year growth of the total number of payers on Facebook has increased 24 percent since this time last year (when compared to March 2012).