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The Facebook Doctrine: Gaming And The Future
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The Facebook Doctrine: Gaming And The Future

July 10, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 8 Next

Something that I've been mindful of as I've been discussing social games and social networking, this is moving very quickly and is a lot younger than we almost think it is, because it's slotted in so emphatically into our lives very quickly. Obviously, Facebook has been around for several years, but this really is a phenomenon.

GD: We opened our platform up in the spring of 2007. I believe it was May, so we just passed our second birthday of the platform. And that really was the genesis and catalyst of an ecosystem showing up and building applications for Facebook.

What's really interesting to me is we have this thriving ecosystem of building apps on today, but also this shift towards social experiences that are off of using Connect technology.

And I talked a fair bit about this at the conference, but we're starting to see, for instance, like PopCap just released a game called Zuma. It's a traditional game of theirs on their website that Facebook can connect into, and suddenly, you get a social leadership board, and you publish your scores back to Facebook. And so we're seeing the use of those, the Facebook social graph, and the ability to publish stories really driving usage of that traditional casual game.

Zuma's been around for years.

GD: Right, but now lots of people here are playing it when they weren't playing it before because it's now a social game.

I certainly want to talk about Facebook Connect. I think there's a lot of stuff to talk about there, and I know you're a big proponent of it. First of all, where did the idea come from, opening up Facebook and creating an API that allows other things that are not Facebook to talk to Facebook?

GD: So, this is the original platform?

I mean Facebook in terms of Facebook Connect.

GD: The two are actually related. It's an interesting story. By 2007, we had been around for a few years, and we had a good many users. We had built some of our own apps like Events, Notes, Links, Photos. And these apps, people were using them and were heavily engaged in them and really excited about them.

As we thought about what other apps we might want to build, we kind of realized two things. The first of that is there would be a tremendous range of ideas, some incredible ideas of how to use Facebook technologies in ways that we couldn't even imagine, and I think games was one of them. We didn't build a Facebook game. And the minute we opened the platform up, there were a lot of games available on the platform.

And the second is that even if we did have lots of great ideas, we would never have all the resources necessary to build them. So, by opening up the platform, it would allow anybody in the world to come up with great ideas, and then build them themselves, and let everyone benefit from them. So, that was the motivation behind our platform.

Then, in terms of Connect, the vision has always been that social experiences would be prevalent everywhere, on every device, on every website. And Facebook Connect was all about taking what was happening on, which we had now demonstrated people's interest and engagement and passion for, and opening that everywhere. So, it's kind of the same thinking behind the opening of the platform, was opening up Facebook to the world.

Who Has the Biggest Brain?

I think that I wasn't fully aware of what was going on with Facebook Connect until E3. And I don't know if that's just because I haven't been paying attention or because that was sort of where it became really obvious that it was going to touch on platforms that I hadn't anticipated. Obviously, it has, with the announcements of the Nintendo DSi and the Xbox 360. I did not anticipate that going into E3. Why is that important to touch those platforms?

GD: So, we believe that the incredible social activity that's happening on today will happen everywhere in the future, will happen on the web, on desktop applications, on mobile phones, on set top boxes, on game consoles, will happen everywhere. The compelling functionality and applications of Facebook have much broader applications than just one web site.

So, we've always had that vision. When you look at the gaming consoles, not only are they very popular, but they have a thriving development community that is building really interesting experiences. And we had spoken to a lot of game developers who were building games, not just for Facebook but for consoles. And they were really interested in building social experiences on the consoles and then furthermore connecting those experiences to Facebook and to other devices.

So, this concept of multi-device gaming that we're talking about now, where no matter what devices we're on, we can play the same or a similar game. We tend to think of the world as three screens, the television screen, the computer screen, and the mobile screen. Each of those are slightly different use cases of how we want to interact with experiences, but all of them should be social and all of them should be able to interact together over time.

So, we had this vision, and then the gaming industry had a similar vision, and the minute we talked, it became obvious that this was a win-win for everybody. The consoles would go social, the game developers could build social experiences, and that these would all be able to tie through Facebook. So, once you put two and two together, you've got five. And Xbox is very forward-leaning in building out their console beyond just a core gaming machine. And they got it right away, and they're moving very aggressively to roll this out.

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