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Facebook's Ryan Admits 'Slowed Growth' In Number Of Players On Platform

Facebook's Sean Ryan says the new features in the Facebook games channel partially address "slowed growth" in the game sector due to removal of "negative" viral channels last year.
Recently there has been criticism that Facebook games are declining faster than they used to, with games like Diner Dash shuttering this month. At a Gamasutra-attended press conference, we asked Sean Ryan, director of games partnerships for Facebook, whether he thinks the recent changes to the game side of the platform addresses this issue. On the whole, Ryan sees this as less of a platform problem, and more of a game-by-game issue. "As certain games hit lifecycles, do you expand, do you sequelize?" he posed. "What you see in general is that some games decline, and a bunch of games increase dramatically … We’re an open platform, and we really believe that people should make whatever games they want to make, and we should do a better job of putting that in front of the right people." With the new, more intelligent virality Facebook is implementing, including a games ticker and Amazon or Netflix-style recommendations to game players, "we’re there to make sure if you love a game you can find that game," says Ryan. "We’re trying to make sure we're better at surfacing games." More than worrying about declining numbers, he says Facebook worries about "what are the types of features we need to enable … what types of games currently aren’t possible on the platform that we can enable by new features?" "We still have a ways to go with breadth of content," added Ryan, saying that diverse game types was key to future growth. Another criticism that’s been levied against the platform recently is the continued use of the "200 million users" number, which was released last year, and never updated. Ryan was asked by the panel whether, since they weren’t updating the number, this means growth has slowed. He confirmed in the affirmative. "The game growth with the changes we made last year definitely slowed," Ryan admitted. Changes included less viral "spamming” on users' walls, and things of that nature. He says that growth was large, but not positive overall. "A year ago, game spam was one of the top areas that was brought up by people unhappy with Facebook," he added. "It doesn’t even show up anymore. The good news is we’ve addressed that in a way where we don’t see that for users anymore. The bad news is the growth has slowed." But with the new features, subtle though they may be, he feels developers have a better in to more intelligent virality. Ryan concluded, "I feel confident where we are now that we can grow the DAU in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the users."

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