Facing a serious challenge from the introduction of games on Google+, Facebook is striking back with some changes that will let developers make their apps more engaging — and more in your face.
The goal is to keep developers excited about building games for Facebook, even though Google will offer advantages, like taking a much smaller cut of in-game payments.
Facebook says it’s the biggest set of changes to the canvas — the main Facebook Web page — since Facebook started. The changes were announced on Facebook’s developer blog a few minutes ago, and include the following:
- Bigger apps — developers will be able to make their apps take up the full height and width of the user’s Web browser.
- Real-time updates — apps will be able to send a stream of real-time notifications in the form of a scrolling ticker to keep friends alerted to your every move.
- Game stories — apps will be able to publish alerts related to scores and achievements — for instance, whenever you pass your friend’s high score, the game could let the world know.
- More prominent bookmarks — links to apps will be available in a new pane that appears on the upper-right hand side of every page on Facebook, so users will be able to start and resume play more easily.
This could be really annoying for users who don’t care about what their friends are doing with games.
But Facebook thought of that — a new ranking system for News Feeds will attempt to figure out which apps are interesting to other users and which are annoying, and bury or raise alerts accordingly.
All of these are nice moves, but nothing groundbreaking.
But Facebook doesn’t have to be groundbreaking right now — with more than 700 million users, compared with maybe 20 million for Google+, social game developers have little choice but to keep thinking of Facebook first.