Facebook’s New SDK Makes Life Easier for Social Game Developers

Mark Stephens

Us game developers have a tough life trying to make games compatible for so many different devices and software platforms. I can hear the violins of sympathy being played from here…thank you kindly! Anyway, occasionally our life is made a little easier when the big platforms make changes to their Software Development Kits (SDKs), as Facebook did last week.


Joint Venture Announced

Facebook has announced a joint venture with the large Canadian gaming engine, Unity, meaning that web, iOS, and Android gaming app developers can use the network’s social and identity features to enhance their players’ gaming experience.

The partnership enables developers to continue to write code in the same way they are used to, but with additional social features for inviting friends, requests, and sharing, no matter what device they are using.

Developers will also get access to Facebook’s cloud-based platform that provides storage for user authentication, leaderboards and cloud saving; this will enable developers to grow their games with a more engaged and connected network of players.

In addition to this, developers will be able to import their mobile game to Facebook with a single line of code.

Unity is the game engine with the most developers working with it and it has around 90 million active users playing its games on Facebook (an increase of 30 million users this year alone); the partnership with Facebook means new developers should be attracted by the opportunity to gain a larger audience share through their games.

Facebook’s Changing Focus

Most of the recent Facebook announcements seem to be geared towards their push into mobile and midcore gaming. Just recently the social network announced that around 41 per cent of its $1.4 billion advertising revenue came from mobile.

We have seen other moves in preparation for a greater focus on mobile gaming, such as the recent drive into mobile game publishing.

The partnership also confirms what was widely reported earlier this year: Facebook is going after a different calibre of gamer, namely midcore or hardcore gamers who have previously been unable to play their games on the network. Traditionally better known for its lighter, more casual gaming environment, that may be about to change.

In targeting more of the richer, interactive 3-D style of game, Facebook’s product manager George Lee said.

“We’ve always felt that we didn’t really supply the right infrastructure [for core games]…You see a lot of people here at Facebook playing those kinds of games on other platforms. We were kind of unhappy that we couldn’t supply the same kind of experience on Facebook, and we work here. It was a chip on our shoulder.”

What’s the Facebook Gaming Future?

In light of the above comments the new Facebook SDK makes perfect sense. The network is trying to attract the harder core game developers to bring their audience share over, by making it easier to integrate new and more sophisticated games into the platform.

We can expect to see more action, adventure, and first-person shooter games that are currently usually played on consoles; they will be able to be played on the Web, on the iOS platform and on Android devices. So the collection of options for Facebook’s 260 million plus game players will certainly expand.

Game makers will benefit from a build-once, publish-everywhere process: something that always goes down well with developers, many of which have come from the typical fragmented environments we have seen in the past.