Jan

25

Facebook Soon to Become “Facetablet” (Well, for Games Anyway….)

Mark Stephens

Well, actually the name change hasn’t happened yet. But it may be a matter of time, if Facebook’s director of games partnerships knows what he’s talking about – and we assume he does. The targeting of tablets for Facebook gaming is not something we should be surprised about, as smartphone usage starts to reach almost saturation point in some areas of the world while tablet uptake continues apace; Facebook understandably views this as a major area for growth, which fits in with their strategy of targeting mobile and mid-core gamers in 2014.

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Facebook from an Insider’s View

Facebook’s director of games partnerships is Sean Ryan, who was once at Sega and News Corp, amongst other corporations. His role is to ensure developers make Facebook a major part of their gaming strategy, and as part of that role, to communicate the Facebook vision.

Some of that vision was expressed to the folk over at Recode recently who were good enough to share it with the world.

Firstly, before looking at what’s around the corner this year for Facebook, it would be useful to get Ryan’s take on some the major challenges and developments of the past few years since he took up his role. The major trends he’s seen are as follows:

  • Better balancing of the player/developer preferences – for example ensuring there is not too much spam but at the same time keeping developers happy with enough game reminders in feeds.
  • Creating a more “diverse ecosystem”: once dominated by US developer Zynga, and now open to more developers, especially from Europe and Asia (notably Singapore, Korea, and Japan.)
  • Wider diversity of game genres – previously driven by simulation games; now casual, casino and core games enjoy greater popularity.
  • The move to mobile – “the overwhelming trend of the last year to two years.” Facebook has expanded its marketing role in driving players to games on iOS and Android mobile devices, boosting ad revenue.
  • Cross-platform games that increase engagement levels on both mobile and desktop.
  • Closer connections between messaging apps like Kakao Talk and Line (hugely successful Asian apps), with Facebook and gaming.

Enough about what’s been happening. How does Ryan see the year ahead for Facebook gaming?

A Focus on Tablet Gaming

Moses was said to receive the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets…and it’s tablets that Facebook is commanding developers to focus on!

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This is not surprising really, given the tablet market is only around three years old and is now coming to the boil in the same way that smartphones did a year or two ago. According to a recent report from BI Intelligence by early 2015 tablet sales will overtake PC sales. They have experienced the fastest growth trajectory of any device in history – including a 74% growth in 2013. I won’t bore you any more with the numbers; suffice to say they are HOT and Facebook is placing a firm focus on them.

Here’s what Ryan says:

“We’ll start to see tablets become a larger part of the equation, though it’s already quite large — I’m not sure everybody appreciates how large the tablet gaming business is. For many of our developers already, tablet revenue is over half, because the revenue per user is much higher.
bq. There’s what we call the triple-threat — you’re sitting at home watching TV, using Facebook on your phone and playing a game on your tablet.”

Gamers should expect to see an even richer array of games for their tablets this year – with a continued focus on more sophisticated games that break the mould of the typical Facebook sim or casino games of old. Watch this gaming space!