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F8: Facebook's Open Graph Promises Big Changes For Social Games

F8: Facebook's Open Graph Promises Big Changes For Social Games

September 22, 2011 | By Kris Graft

At Facebook's F8 conference on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined new features for the social network that could help improve discoverability and virality of social games -- two aspects that are key to the success of a social game.

Thanks to Facebook's new Open Graph, users will be able to see the new "Ticker," which Zuckerberg described as a "lightweight stream of everything that's going on around you." That stream includes friends' social gaming activities.

The new feature seems to be the fulfillment of a promise Facebook made just last month, to "re-open virality" on the network for game developers. Previously, the company reeled in viral channels in an attempt to reduce unwanted gaming updates from reaching too wide a breadth of Facebook friends.

Zuckerberg assured that users would not be annoyed by the feed (even people who have not been exposed to a game, or don't play games, will see game activities in the constantly-streaming Ticker). For games, the Ticker will show not only what game a friend is playing, but also specific in-game actions.

The example given at F8 was with Zynga's Words With Friends. An update appeared in the Ticker showing that two of his friends were currently playing the game. By hovering over that update, a Facebook user can see a small picture of the word that is being used in the game, in real-time. You can then click on that picture and bring up the in-progress game in a larger space.

"Social games are killing it," said Zuckerberg. "Games have been the most successful apps on Facebook. We think that Open Graph is going to take social games to the next level and make them a lot better, by helping you discover even more games that you want to play, through your friends."

Facebook is already working with over a dozen major social game developers to create games for Open Graph, including Electronic Arts, Digital Chocolate, Wooga and Zynga.

"We think this is going to make social games a lot better," Zuckerberg said. "... Social games have really already transformed the way we play games and the way the gaming industry works, but we think Open Graph is just going to take this to the next level. This is gonna be good."

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