As you may have heard, Google announced the launch of games on Google+. Well, Facebook quickly followed that announcement with one called “Making Games Better,” which includes news of a new game ticker and a bigger screen for game play, as well as the ability to bookmark your favorites.
“When you’re playing games, you’ll now see a separate stream of your friends’ game activity, scores and achievements in a ticker,” explains Facebook’s Jared Morgenstern. “The best way to find new games is through friends, and now you’ll have more opportunities to see what they’re playing.”
“You can now control who can see these stories for each individual app in your Settings,” he says. “If you want friends to see you’re playing one game but not another, you can change that. You’re also able to limit visibility directly from the ticker by clicking ‘X’ on a story to remove it.”
Not all games take advantage of the bigger game play screen, but right off the bat, Cityville, Zoo World, Monster World and Mystery Manor will over the coming days, according to Facebook.
As far as bookmarking, you can keep the ones you want at the top of your bookmarks on the home page. Just click the menu next to the bookmark to add a new favorite. These can be rearranged as you like.
Additionally, Facebook announced some updates to the app experience in general. A major redesign of the Canvas Page includes what the company calls some of the “biggest updates to the apps experience” since they first launched Platform.
Features include: bookmarks, real-time social app activity, game stories, more room for apps, homepage bookmark improvements and quality distribution.
On the top right of each Canvas Page, you’ll find bookmarks for your top apps and games. They include red counters to notify users of outstanding requests.
“The live ticker below the bookmarks shows real-time app and game activity from a user’s friends to make the game playing experience on Facebook more social than ever,” explains Facebook’s Bruce Rogers. “We automatically generate ‘playing’ and ‘using’ stories in the ticker when friends use an app or play a game respectively helping users re-engage and discover new games and apps that their friends are using. These are generated for apps that have enabled Social Discovery in their Developer App settings.”
“In addition to the automatic stories, we are launching new Graph APIs for achievements and scores so you can publish stories for user’s achievements, passing friends’ scores, or leaderboard movement to make game play more competitive, social and exciting for your users,” Rogers continues. “You now have the option to expand the size of your apps based on the user’s screen resolution. Fluid Canvas allows you to make your app left aligned so it takes up the full height and width of the user’s browser. You can enable Fluid Canvas, by selecting ‘fluid’ for ‘Canvas Width’ in your app settings.”
In the “quality distribution” department, Facebook has begun rolling out a new ranking system aimed at better surfacing app stories to people who will most likely engage with it. Hopefully this works better than their way of determining the people I’m most likely to chat with, because in my personal experience, they’re kind of missing the boat there sometimes.
Tricia Duryee at All Things D asks if Facebook’s redesign has brought back viral spam.
It kind of seems as though Facebook is going back to taking a more aggressive approach with games as Google+ gives them some competition in this department.
Yesterday, Facebook also launched Insights for Credits to help developers in their monetization efforts.