Facebook Games "Viral" Spam To Make A Big Horrible Comeback?

Priscilla Chan Mark Zuckerberg BeastIn this metaphor, the puppy is Facebook users, coddled by Zuck

Photo: Beast’s Facebook fan page

Facebook gamesmakers used to spam the heck out of Facebook users through “viral” channels like Facebook notifications and the News Feed.But then, last year, Facebook cracked down on all that and much of it seemed to go away. The gamesmakers weren’t happy about it, of course, but users were.


Now that Facebook makes big money from games through Facebook Credits, Justin Smith from Inside Facebook – the guy who watches the Facebook platform closer than anybody – thinks Facebook will slowly roll back many of those restrictions.

Inside Facebook:

With the Credits rollout over the last year, the Facebook Platform has reached a new level of maturity. While requiring developers to use Credits a year or two ago would have caused an uprising, developers now are more amenable to having a direct economic relationship with Facebook. And while that definitely means a loss of some individual developer freedoms — like direct billing relationships with users, and all the other benefits of owning the payments flow — one thing it does mean is there is now someone at Facebook (actually a team) looking at dashboards that have a Credits revenue gauge on them. And that means Facebook is only more likely to become more knowledgeable about and concerned with the overall health of developers’ businesses over time.

What could that mean for overall trends in Facebook’s viral channel products? Generally, it should mean that Facebook is now even less incented to make changes that could make a traumatic impact on application distribution, and more incented to make changes that benefit engagement and retention. As Facebook gets more “hooked” on Credits revenues, it’s going to be harder to wean off of them, unless games for some reason are creating larger problems for Facebook as a whole.

Already, we’ve started to see some new viral channel functionality go live in the last three months, like Facebook beginning to deliver application invitations via the notifications channel. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Facebook add more features and functionality over the remainder of the year.

We’re sceptical.

Zuckerberg and company face very little pressure to pump revenues or profits. Facebook profits could reach $2 billion this year and most of that money still comes from advertising.

Also, Zuckerberg has a long history of neglecting revenues for the sake of the user’s experience. Just like Jeff Bezos and the Google guys before him.

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