Facebook News Feed: now with gaming!

By Eli Cymet | May 25, 2012 |

Whether you’re a player or a developer of Facebook games, it’s shocking to see how much has changed in so short a span of time. Since the kickoff of the company’s “Open Graph,” and “frictionless sharing,” everything from making games to using them to spreading info about them has evolved. And yet, more is in the works! If you thought the announcement of a brand new Facebook App Center was big news, hold on to your hats. Or hair. Or heads.

Starting now, Facebook is enabling developers to share demos of their game content right in the News Feed, giving players the opportunity to play it the same way they would a Youtube video; that is, without leaving the screen! Dubbed “feed gaming,” it will give you bite-sized tastes of games without having to jump to the app itself.

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For players, the benefit is anonymity. Instead of having to sneak on a game of Angry BirdsorIdle Worshipat work and broadcast the info to your friends (and boss), you’re able to indulge without the commitment. On another level, those with privacy concerns will be able to sample a developer’s offerings without having to allow each one access to their user data; provided, of course, the dev. makes a demo available.

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With that said, we’re not talking hours of play here. From Facebook’s end, the program seems very much to be a courtship of creators rather than gamers, in hopes that development for the platform - which has been waning of late - will feel more appealing. Accordingly, there seems to be a lot of flexibility the demo, which is being sold as a way to onboard players with viral tactics. Encourage active players to post a particular level to their friends’ walls as a “demo” to challenge them to beat the score. Once they play a round or succeed? Ask them to play the full game. Better yet, reward virtual passers by with the promise of premium or in-game currency for their time-killing, but make collection conditional on booting up the full version.

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Like freemium games on the App Store, it’s Facebook’s way of dialling down the commitment level, allowing players to try before they buy in with their personal info and commit a portion of their news feed to those bothersome updates! And yet for anyone who’s been playing Facebook games for a long while, this may feel similar to the moment when theatres started airing commercials for products before commercials for movies. As many of the platform’s games are already selling themselves on the “try before you buy” ethic, this is...what? Try before you try before you buy?

All cynicism aside, however, I can very much see this working. I rarely respond to invites from other players (and would love to see if this campaign relates to a mass downturn there), but will gladly watch and watch rewatch a funny video in my Facebook tab. If I could pop some bubbles or toss some mudlings around with the same ease? I may just find myself playing the full game. Would you?

Read more: Facebook, News Feed, gaming, feed gaming

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