Facebook has updated its games platform today to introduce games stories to the mobile news feed, as well as providing developers with updated categories for identifying their games, and marrying the games and apps dashboards.
The mobile news feed is a bold step as it will likely increase engagement for cross-platform games that can be accessed via Facebook’s HTML5-based mobile platform. The stories will appear to both gamers and non-gamers, depending on how frequently the games are played by their friends. Developers can track referrals to games from stories that appear in mobile news feed by looking for ref param “feed_gameplay”. Facebook also recently announced plans to introduce Sponsored Stories to the news feed in 2012. We expect those to end up in the mobile feed soon, too.
The updated game categories addresses the rise of new genres on Facebook in the last year. The all-new categories include “Casino,” “Family,” “Sports,” “Strategy,” and “Word.” Old categories “Role-playing” and “Virtual world” now appear as “Adventure,” and “Simulation,” respectively. This brings Facebook’s total count of game categories to 12.
Lastly, Facebook has combined the the apps and games dashboards into a single dashboard called “Apps and Games.” Facebook explains on its blog that this is intended to “grow the apps and games ecosystem by creating a single place where users can discover and re-engage with [their] apps.” Friend invites appear at the top of the dashboard with a “top apps” section below that showcases what apps a user’s friends are accessing the most.
Facebook has also updated the number of app bookmarks from four to six. The social network reports that an early result of this small change is a 20% increase in referrals from canvas bookmarks to games. Additionally, bookmark counters on the home page now clear automatically when clicked by the user, similar to how notifications behave. Lastly, the platform now features a Games Tutorial for developers just starting out on Facebook.