SGS London: Facebook’s Gareth Davis Hints at New Mobile Games Features and Dashboard

Gareth Davis, the often quoted Platform Manager for Games at Facebook took the stage at Social Gaming Summit London today and illuminated some interesting ideas about Facebook and gaming.

Today, Gareth delivered an intriguing presentation that combined interesting statistics about Facebook with some efficient tips for improving your social games. As the head of Games for Facebook, he has a close relationship with all the games makers, and in my chat with him after his talk, he did explain that Facebook is constantly listening to game makers to determine what to include in their service.

He began the presentation talking about an interesting comparison. There are 80,000,000 websites in the world and 500,000,000 profiles on Facebook. Think about that one. The web is moving towards a people-centered Internet, and with Facebook’s new Pages, they have a social graph and a product and fan page graph. A quarter of a Billion people visit Facebook every day, with an average of 55 minutes every single day. It’s 2x Yahoo, 4X Google.

There are 200m mobile active users every month on Facebook. Gareth expects mobile to drive Facebook growth, it is increasingly important. The vision is social everywhere, for Facebook. “No, we are not building a Facebook phone,” though. Every phone should be social, and they think the social apps should be mobile, as well. Gareth hinted that mobile really is where most resources are headed with FB right now.

200 million people are playing Facebook Games every month. More than PS3, XBox 360 and Wii combined. North America and Europe are the largest consumers of FB Games.

Gareth explained that there are several key elements that distinguish Facebook Games. Mass market appeal, games as a service, virtual goods, a real world identity and social design. Most of these are standard social games analysis, but Gareth Davis got into the specifics of some interesting social games designs and looked at some of the key features.

The games dashboard, for instance is part of social discovery and social discovery is a huge issue to game developers. The dashboard today is version 1, but you’ll see a lot of innovation in the next few months. He’s hinting at some key upgrades for discoverability.

With FB Credits, the goal is to drive up the number of people paying (conversion) and how much they spend (ARPU). With Facebook off-site integration, he mentions how StarCraft II has Facebook integration, and it makes it easy to just find out who’s playing the game and play with them, even if you’ve gone out of touch.

Mobile Social is the next big growth spurt in social games, though. Single sign-on will be a simple way to log on to FB in a game without entering any information, and on a phone that’s key. Location APIs will allow any developer to find out where people have checked in and create an application or game around it. Discovery and distribution. They’re coming up with ways to help games spread better on Mobile.

Gareth also mentioned that console expansion is fast. In Playstation 3, the Facebook API is in the PS3 default API, which means every single PS3 developer can use Facebook without having to import the API.

He next discussed the 7 Success Factors for Social Games:

  1. Analytics: Dashboards for every designer
  2. Iterative Development: Update it every week
  3. Design for discovery and distribution
  4. Engagement: Why is your player coming back every day?
  5. Retail Level Merchandising: Use the principles of retail to price your virtual goods. Theme your items, make introductory sales.
  6. Global Deployment: Ensure that you’re hitting the fast growing markets like Indonesia or India player. “Most games under index globally.”
  7. Social Design: The “secret sauce” is to design how people interact.

“A few people like to create groups, and they’ll create it for everyone.” 5% of photos were tagged when you had to tag your own photos, but now 95% of photos are tagged as other people can tag them for you. They replicated this for check-ins. One person can check-in and check-in their friends. They focus on the most social people.