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Facebook introduces features to "re-open virality"

Social network's response to Google+ is to "be better as a platform"

Facebook has introduced a series of new features for developers that will "re-open" virality" on the platform.

Games and apps will now be given more screen-space, up to the full height and width of the user's browser window.

Facebook is also introducing a real-time news ticker, which will show updates related to games that the user and their friends are playing. This is intended to enrich the play experience while increasing visibility of other games on the network.

In addition, the news-feed ranking system has been modified to bring it into line with the sophisticated recommendation systems on sites like Amazon and Netflix.

According to Gamasutra, the widely discussed entry of Google into the social gaming market through its Google+ network was not a factor in the changes.

"We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about them, we worry about us," he told a group of journalists at Facebook's California headquarters.

Google will only take 5 per cent of revenue from games. By contrast, Facebook takes 30 per cent, but director of games Sean Ryan believes the split is justified by the popularity of the platform.

"What I'd say is in classic fashion Google has emulated our system, which is what they're inclined to do," he said.

"And we just need to be better as a platform. At the end of the day, people will go to what they think is the right platform. So revenue split is one of those factors. We're the leader, there's no question. But we can be better."

Ryan also raised questions of favouritism at Google, citing its investments in Zynga, Kabam and Slide as potential conflicts of interest.

"We're an open platform. We run the most open platform around," he said. "We're not there to grow specific developers."

Ryan confirmed that anti-virality measures introduced by the company to combat spam slowed the growth of the Facebook gaming audience.

"A year ago, game spam was one of the top areas that was brought up by people unhappy with Facebook," he said. "It doesn't even show up anymore. The good news is we've addressed that in a way where we don't see that for users anymore. The bad news is the growth has slowed."

"I feel confident where we are now that we can grow the DAU in a way that doesn't negatively impact the users."

More information on the new features can be found here.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar

Matthew Handrahan

Editor-in-Chief

Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.

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