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GDC: Facebook: We want to send our 425m mobile users to your game

Gareth Davis talks about succeeding with games on Facebook's mobile platform

Gareth Davis, platform manager for games at Facebook, took the stage today at GDC to give a presentation on Facebook's mobile platform and how game developers can succeed with some best practices. Facebook now has 425 million mobile users and 60+ million of those people have discovered games and apps through mobile devices.

This is at the heart of Facebook mobile, as the key to the platform is app discovery, said Davis. He sees Facebook's role as helping developers get their games noticed and monetized. In recent years, Facebook has worked to enhance its mobile platform to streamline distribution features and carrier billing, so that in-game payments for social games can be processed easily in just one or two steps - and then the amount will show up on the user's carrier bill.

The Facebook mobile games team has been expanding, Davis indicated, as the social giant now has over 40 people working to oversee the mobile distribution on the platform. Davis said that Facebook is doing all it can to continue to fuel the ecosystem. Already, Facebook has paid out over $1.4 billion to app developers.

Davis also stressed that contrary to what some in the industry think, Facebook continues to "invest deeply" in native applications while also working on web apps.

Facebook is accessed by more than 2,500 different mobile devices, but the key is that Facebook ensures that the same API, the same set of social channels and the same distribution is used across all devices.

In terms of mobile best practices for games, Davis noted the importance of human psychology. He said "by far" the best mechanism to drive engagement and to get people coming back to your game every day is to get people involved. People are simply more likely to interact with content that has their friends' names or pictures attached to it.

Analytics are also hugely important. Davis remarked that developers really do need to monitor their analytics in their games each day and should try out new features with A/B testing to get instant feedback.

As for properly monetizing free-to-play content, the smart strategy is to have a wide array of virtual goods to offer players. This includes a range of really cheap items as well as a range of expensive items that the "whales" will actually pay for in games.

It's also worth noting, he said, that Facebook users are now 70% international and so game designs should take the audience into account, and developers should think carefully about the growing Asian markets.

Davis also briefly touched on the subject of HTML5, which he acknowledged has been a "bit hit or miss" so far, but he also commented that he believes it's going to become a great platform for games and apps and will "grow tremendously" in the near future, so developers should consider it.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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