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Games on Facebook. What's Changed?

Some time ago I expressed a good deal of frustration about Facebook's ongoing policy changes. I've revisited the subject and had some updated thoughts.

Some time ago I expressed a good deal of frustration about Facebook's ongoing policy changes. I've revisited the subject and had some updated thoughts. 

Operation Developer Love

If you roll back two years, development on Facebook was very much the Wild West. Policies came out of the blue and we often poorly explained. This had the net effect of confusing and frustrating developers by pushing platform changes that simply left developers to discover that they had a busted application. 

In August of this year, Facebook announced Operation Developer Love where they committed to giving a full 90 days advance notice to platform breaking changes. From my perspective, this was the public statement of a number of internal changes Facebook had been working on for months. Considering how much 90 days translates to in "Internet Years", I think this is a natural maturation and is very much appreciated by developers. 

A Partner For the Long Run

Things move so quickly on the Internet that it’s hard to remember when Facebook was a question mark with regards to its long-term viability. Consider that Farmville was launched in the middle of 2009 and it rose to prominence by August of 2009 when it announced "...1 Million Daily Active Users per week on average."

Once we get to the point where we make a major mental shift in the way we perceive technology and its influence on our lives, it becomes difficult to remember much of anything that happened before. Facebook has established it's user base, it's defined itself as a media company and it's diligently working to rival Google in regards to Search by walling off media on the Internet.

Facebook is here to stay, so lets get on with making great content. 

Developers

The previous points in this post pale with regards to the importance of having insightful developers involved. The challenge that kept many developers away from Facebook was the business model of Social Games made popular by Zynga, Playdom and EA. Have you ever seen a developer's face sour when Farmville was mentioned?  As stability has come along and people have learned the platform, the time has come for people to drop the "Facebook Games" stigma and focus on making Great "Games on Facebook".  

I would particularly call out Spry Fox for Triple Town and Heart Shaped Games for Hero Generations as perfect examples of making content that I actively want to play (in contrast to many other Facebook games - remember the difference). Triple Town is a reinvention of the Match 3 genre. It's highly replayable and doesn't expect me to come back in 30 minutes to harvest a crop. Hero Generations is a fantastic generational RPG that focuses on building fame and then passing on positive traits to your descendants. Hero Generations was a finalist at the IndieCade show this year

Triple Town and Hero Generations are great examples of the kind of content I want to see on Facebook and Google+. It's the kind of content that developers can be proud of. 

In the end, Facebook is a distribution platform.  What you distributed and what you define as meaningful content is completely up to you. 

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