In a recent interview, Mark Pincus encouraged Facebook to be more like XBox Live, “where there are achievements, a consistent user experience, a way for web publishers and networks and sites to participate and an easy way for developers to develop amazing game experiences that enhance relationships among people.” He discusses a series of analogies to describe the current landscape of the app economy, where independent application developers create competing applications on a standardized platform. We analyze the interview and make a few assessments of our own after the jump.
In the recent interview with The Escapist magazine, Pincus expressed that he felt Facebook is at a “crossroads” in its development and maturation. Seeing as the entire web is focusing on their platform, and especially so now that they’ve opened up the entire web to use their social plugins, they need to determine whether they want to be the web platform, or whether they want to continue their walled garden approach and ensure that their traditional Facebook user experience isn’t marred. Surely, Zuckerberg would attempt to take on both. Pincus feels that the obvious business model is for Facebook to continue to ask developers to build applications on their website, but incentivize them more by adding XBox Live like features.
According to the article:
He makes the case for an “app economy,” where apps are more thoroughly integrated into Facebook’s current model. He also points out that, instead of bickering over new users and popularity, app makers could try to handle it like Xbox Live did, sharing a virtual space and working together to create a more cohesive and pervasive experience. Pincus encouraged Facebook to be more like Xbox Live, “where there are achievements, a consistent user experience, a way for web publishers and networks and sites to participate and an easy way for developers to develop amazing game experiences that enhance relationships among people.”
This is something that can definitely help and hinder Facebook. The idea of building more social tools and standardized features like leaderboards or points certainly can help the user experience in some cases, but also means that Facebook now has a whole new area that they need to support, for hundreds of thousands of applications and games. They certainly are feeling this pressure already with their currency, because it will be distributed around the entire web and they have to ensure that the technology behind it is absolutely rock solid and prevents fraud, failure and poor user experiences. It would only take a few problems for the users’ trust to be vanquished, and Zuckerberg has always stated (as he does in the introduction of the Facebook Fairytales book) that trust is paramount to his business and network.
Pincus also compares the current ecosystem to Windows, and rightly so. Microsoft and any other operating system need to draw a line between what is mandatory and available from the platform, and what can be innovated. The fact that Facebook is presented with these questions points out its emerging role as something of a ‘social operating system’, which is a term that was thrown around a year ago when Zuckerberg introduced the application bar and chat at the bottom of the screen (the bar has subsequently been removed). The idea of having applications live on his social operating system is something that he was once after, but is he still? Let us know what you think in the comments.