Facebook GameDev News - Week 39, 2010

As everyone still waits for feed stories (on Facebook) to stop collapsing and posts from non-installed apps to disappear, I’ll talk about few platform changes that happened last week.

(original post could be found at my dip inside blog)

As everyone (on Facebook) still waits for feed stories to stop collapsing and posts from non-installed apps to disappear, I’ll talk about few things that happened last week.

  • Few days ago Facebook has removed requests link in the right “Requests” box and put a note to use “Games” and “Applications” in “the unnamed menu on the left” to find requests.

    That’s good and will educate users about the existence of Dashboards. But it’s not perfect, there’s one usability flaw. We’ve asked few users to “find the shortest way to their game requests” - some users wanted to click on a number.

    We hope that Facebook will at least add a separate anchor or referrer tag so games could identify how players got to the game.

    But… other users were even more confused - they did remember from the tip that requests are stored in a “Games” section, but it does only show very few recent requests with a highly non-prominent “See all pending requests” link. I will dedicate a special post related to an awful and awkward usability of Dashboards and well-hidden "Games" Directory.

    The current workaround I propose to developers (and we’ll be rolling it out asap as well) would be to put a warning above the game, e.g. “If you are having troubles finding Requests section for your game, click here.” leading to a link like “/reqs.php#confirm_APPID_0”. 

  • Discovery stories are live! You could see that some of your friends have liked the game. Good news: discovery starts from just 1 friend playing a game. Bad news: doesn’t function exactly as “like” - no fancy stuff like hover hints with a game icon.
  • Ads for games - “X, Y, Z played this.” 
  • Playdom has started educating players about "Games" Dashboard. There is even a weird screencast (listen to the audio).
  • Several games have changed wordings of feed posts to include “comment this post to notify your friends” or even “LIKE this to thank friend for a bonus” and even “CLICK HERE to get a bonus!”. This is done to educate and prepare users for upcoming “viral shutdown”. If player likes the post or comments on it, there’s a hope that other players will see friends’ comment or like (at least in “Top News”?). 
  • Another confusing change was rolled out yesterday. “Games” Dashboard link has started changing its name to “Game Requests” depending whether you have requests or not, adding extra confusion to players looking for “Games” link they were educated about just few days ago…

There’s one thing that deserves a special note, as it looks like I’m the first to blog about it or I was the last to notice. It’s a new section of an already over-bloated "Games" Dashboard called "Game Stories" - it makes discovery of game feed stories easier, even though somewhat limited (and has typical obscure Facebook usability. there should be a term like Facebook unusability or something).

It’s hard to estimate the short-term impact for developers. Players don’t have to scroll through the feed anymore lurking for attached freebies. If Facebook will educate players about this section or will move this into a sub-menu of Games Dashboard (like Messages->Updates), it will lead to players ignoring feed posts AT ALL…

I’ll try to keep you updated on new obscurities that Facebook rolls out! Let me know if you’ve found any other cool tricks that developers have started doing lately.

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