Facebook has made it possible for apps and games to create and manage groups for users, the company announced in a blog post Wednesday evening. This was created as a way for game developers to help players connect around clans, alliances, guilds or other game communities, but non-game apps could ultimately find use in the API as well.
With these new groups, users can share content, post updates, create events and poll members, just as they can with traditional groups. However, these groups are created and controlled by a game rather than an individual user. Users can be promoted as admins if the developer wishes.
Many users already create groups to connect with people they play games with. Now with the API, games can facilitate this by inviting players to join existing groups or building the group creation process right into the game. Clans have long been a part of traditional online gaming — especially MMORPGs and online strategy games — and this could help social games be taken more seriously by core gamers. It should be noted that some games already include in-app clans groups, but these were created by the developer and don’t create an external group on Facebook.
In an overview of the feature, Facebook says, “Game Groups help make games more social and engaging by creating another place where users can interact with each other. Group social dynamics help with retention and monetization.”
Groups give users a place to share achievements and tips. When users begin to feel as though they are part of a community, they are more likely to continue playing a game. The notifications generated by Facebook groups could also serve as prompts to get users re-engaged with an app.
Outside of games, some lifestyle applications might want to integrate groups. For instance, an app like Goodreads might want to allow users to form groups around their book clubs. Fitness apps like Endomondo might do the same for running clubs or teams training together. Fantasy sports apps would also seem to have a good use case.
The feature is starting in beta for apps and games that are listed in App Center so Facebook can monitor use and create more guidelines and best practices for developers over time. Developers can get an overview of game groups here and read reference documentation here.