Enough Farmville? Facebook revamps game updates

As Facebook becomes the fastest-growing social gaming platform, the company came by unique challenges that continue to follow its growth. The platform-holder has had to balance the needs of game developers who depend on exposure with providing a good experience for users who simply want to interact with friends without receiving notifications about their friends' FarmVille pets.

At a recent media event in Palo Alto, California, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that games are one of the primary reasons some people visit Facebook, confirming that 40% of its userbase is using the site for social gaming. At the same time, this means that about 300 million members of the world's largest online social network don't.

"Our goal is to make it so as few people as possible come to the site and have negative experiences,” said Zuckerberg. The event was held to discuss the latest changes the company is making to the ways games interface with its user experience.

Developers can now implement a counter to notify players

Essentially, users will be generically notified if multiple friends are currently playing a new game, but successive updates about their play will be concealed unless the other users are also players of that game. The various improvements are expressed in detail on The Facebook Blog.

"In real life, if one of your friends plays FarmVille and you don't, they probably wouldn't come up to you and say 'Hey, I just got this new cow on my farm,'" he explains. "They might say 'Hey, I found this new game that's really cool that you should check out.'

"Giving this kind of context is what we want to emulate on the site," he adds. In the spring, the company made changes to the kinds of notifications Facebook games were allowed to send their users, aiming to keep "join my game"-type spam in check. As a result, numerous popular titles on the social network experienced steep declines in their userbases.

Games are a major force on Facebook, but it’s bittersweet: "One the one hand, games are a phenomenon -- 200 million people or more are playing games on the site," says the CEO. "On the other hand, game [notifications] are also one of the biggest complaints that we get." Games drive userbases, but they also threaten to drive userbases off, and finding that balancing point appears to be Facebook's current goal. 

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Then you may not have tried Bejeweled Blitz. With three options (Facebook, standalone PC, and standalone iOS), as well as being one of the few FB games with decent performance on Linux-based browsers (three of my all-time top ten scores are on Linux/Firefox), one could only hope that other FB game devs get the hint.

I like to play 3 Facebook games, and sometimes I want to post requests or gifts or whatever directly to my profile (I definitely won't spam anyone who isn't playing on purpose) but I wish there was an easier way to hide those game-related posts in my profile to people who don't even play the games.

The highest customization level is only allowing individual friends to see the posts, but I don't want to type in every friend that actively plays it. There should be like a category like "Only to friends who actively play [insert game name]" or "Only to friends who have played [insert game name]".

Otherwise, I post it to my profile, but will delete it after a day or two because I don't like the clutter people might see, so it's kinda annoying.

I've been playing FarmVille for over a year and I still love it! I'm usually a FPS gamer, I've just bought HALO Reach and I play it all the time, but FarmVille is the only game I can stand playing on my PC

Thank god for that. All the saddos who have nothing better to do in life but play farmville will no longer fill up my pages. Kudos FaceBook

Sounds good for once!

Yes, one can ban those apps, but since they give bonuses for your friends if you have an account, this is nice to have if you don't yourself actively play the games.

This is a welcomed feature for those that find application notifications highly obtrusive. It's annoying to see your news feed flooded with unnecessary notifications from FarmVille, Mafia Wars, etc.

Here's what I use!

Fluff Busting Purity is a Greasemonkey script that alters your facebook homepage to only show the most relevant information to you.

The script is compatible with Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera running on Windows, Mac or Linux or Apple Safari runing on Mac.

http://www.fbpurity.com/

Meh. I banned Farmville notifications off my newsfeed within hours of seeing them the first time. I don't think I've seen an app or game notification in months.

They could fix this issue easily by created to Feeds. Social News Feed and a Social Games/App Feed. Just put the two "tabs" at the top of the page. I could easily live with that.

In the mood to chat and share pix wiht friends, there's a tab for that. Wanna let everyone you got a Milktonium Cow, there's another tab for that.

Can anyone for the love of God tell me how those screenshots have different font than my actual facebook interface? Is that Mac screenshot or something?

Frame said,
Can anyone for the love of God tell me how those screenshots have different font than my actual facebook interface? Is that Mac screenshot or something?
If it was a screenshot from Safari (a Mac OS X browser), then the text would look slightly more bold. Since that isn't the case, I'm guessing the screenshot was taken from a Windows-based browser. Also, it looks identical to Facebook on Google Chrome/Windows 7.

Anaron said,
If it was a screenshot from Safari (a Mac OS X browser), then the text would look slightly more bold. Since that isn't the case, I'm guessing the screenshot was taken from a Windows-based browser. Also, it looks identical to Facebook on Google Chrome/Windows 7.

Doesn't to me. That's why I'm asking. I know Safari has differet display, but on Windows it looks surprisingly more horrible, at least on every browser that I have installed o.O

Mathachew said,
I've already blocked nearly every game on Facebook.... a welcomed feature though.

+1

I spent months blocking all of those annoying apps that my Facebook friends seem dead set on spamming already; but I also welcome this feature. I just wish I could stop some friends from posting links that are about their games without blocking them.

Good stuff. I HATE the damn app posts in my news feed, and anything to reduce that is a positive thing.

... Although that said, I already had most of the games blocked anyway so it probably won't make a difference for me, but its a positive step nonetheless.

I like where they are going with that however, I can say for myself at least that I would love to see a button that kills all apps, all app notifications and all that junk. I am there so that I can keep in touch with my friends that I can no longer keep in touch with in person. I do not want ANY apps. Period.

littleneutrino said,
I like where they are going with that however, I can say for myself at least that I would love to see a button that kills all apps, all app notifications and all that junk. I am there so that I can keep in touch with my friends that I can no longer keep in touch with in person. I do not want ANY apps. Period.

Blame your contacts then.