Late last week, Facebook updated its Platform Policies with language that forbids cross-promotion from within Canvas apps for games on any “competing social network.” We can confirm today that this does not apply to social game developers cross-promoting their own iOS and Android apps or off-platform versions of their games.
A Facebook spokesperson tells ISG that there’s no issue with developers promoting mobile apps from within Canvas applications.
“[We] don’t believe it’s appropriate to use our site to promote a competitive service whether through ads, platform or any other channel we make available to third-parties on Facebook.com,” the spokesperson says. “We’ve had this policy in place for our advertising platform for some time, and the recent update extended this to Canvas applications on Facebook.”
The language of the initial update is a bit hazy: “Apps on Facebook may not integrate, link to, promote, distribute, or redirect to any app on any other competing social platform.” Broadly interpreted, many developers would have reason to believe cross-promoting an iOS version of their game would be in violation of the policy. This could’ve been pretty damaging to many social game developers looking to expand into the mobile space. For example, Cupcake Corner developer OMGPOP tells TechCrunch it got a healthy percentage of its first 1 million downloads for its iOS game, Puppy World, using cross-promotions like the one below:
Understandably concerned, the developer spoke with Facebook and found that it wasn’t in violation. OMGPOP VP Eric von Coelln tells us that the developer is not in violation because it’s cross-promoting its own portfolio of games — which includes the newly-launched iOS exclusive, Puppy World. Von Coelln notes that the title uses Facebook Connect, which may explain why Facebook doesn’t think of mobile as a competing platform as Cupcake Corner player checking out Puppy World would still be “on” Facebook as opposed to “leaving” Facebook for another network.
The timing of the update — made the day after Google+ launched its Games platform — suggests that the policy was instead aimed at preventing developers from directing Facebook traffic to Google+. The distinction between G+ and mobile is an important one, as much of Facebook’s social games ecosystem relies on cross-promotion both for cross-platform games (e.g. PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz) and for each others’ games, as with the social games cross-promotion service Applifier.