Facebook tests ‘start now’ option to allow users to begin playing games without authorizing permissions

Some Facebook canvas games are testing a new “start now” function to let users begin playing games immediately without the roadblock of a permissions dialog.

Game developers Zynga, Kixeye and EA have signed contracts with Facebook similar to deals the company made with Instant Personalization partners like Yelp and TripAdvisor, we’ve learned from a source familiar with the matter. However, unlike with Instant Personalization, which was for third-party websites, this new program is for games on the social network.

These games — including Zynga Slingo, Indiana Jones Adventure World, Backyard Monsters and Battle Pirates, among others — will be able to access to a user’s basic profile information and friend list without requesting permissions. A blue bar above the game will allow users to opt out at any time and the app will no longer have access to their information. Early tests have shown increased installs and low opt-out rates, Facebook confirmed in a statement.

The reduced friction could help developers bring in more users who might otherwise be turned off by the permissions request. The result amounts to somewhat of a trial period. If games need additional permissions down the line, for example, access to a user’s email address, birthday or Timeline publishing, they will have to request those with a traditional auth dialog.

Facebook has been experimenting with ways to make it easier for users to try games without the hurdle of the auth dialog. The new App Center allows users to grant permission directly from an app detail page rather than through an additional pop up. In May, the company announced a test with some developers that allows them to create a short demo of their game that users can play directly from within News Feed or Timeline. However, with those in-stream games, developers do not gather any insights about the users who play them. With this latest test, partners will receive some basic information about who is playing their game and how they are converting.

The impression we get is that this is a preliminary test and developers shouldn’t expect it to roll out to all games and apps any time soon. Instant Personalization for off-Facebook sites launched in 2010, and is still only available to a handful of partners. However, if this becomes successful for canvas games, more developers might be interested in working with Facebook in this way. If users become more comfortable with their basic profile information being used to personalize websites, apps and games, the social network might eventually decide to allow some of this info to be used by default, but it’s unclear whether the majority of users would support this currently.

The “start now” functionality has only been available for a small subset of users, but it should be rolling out more over the weekend. Facebook has already updated its Help Center with information about the change.

Here’s what users see when they click “learn more” or “disable” from the blue bar as seen in the screenshot above.

Facebook’s official statement on the test is below:

“We’re beginning a limited rollout of a feature that enables people to start playing a select number of games on Facebook.com in one click, while only sharing public information and friend lists with the app to personalize the experience. Initial tests have shown that the start now functionality drove significant gains in new users and daily active users, with low opt-out rates. ​The feature gives people the opportunity to get started with games and apps immediately, and provides developers with with more ways to grow and gain engaged users on Facebook.com.”

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