Facebook: More gamers who pay

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is taking steps to improve the gaming experience by encouraging more developers to join the site after previously depending largely on Zynga Inc (ZNGA) to bring in people who want to play. The executive has spent recent years striving to win back users who initially were alienated by the sometimes intrusive ways game makers could market and distribute their wares.

  • Published: 27/03/2013 at 11:50 AM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

"This is an important category for Facebook," Sean Ryan, Facebook's director of game partnerships, said on Tuesday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. "It's good for Facebook. It’s good for users"

The company takes a percentage of the fees paid by users to game companies and garners revenue from developers that use advertising to boost exposure on the service.

More than 100 developers generated more than US$1 million each in revenue on Facebook last year, the company said, and most of the top developers received record revenue from payments.

Dinner Meeting

Zuckerberg and Ryan held a dinner meeting in late 2012 with executives from top makers of social games to discuss ways to increase usage and sales on the social network, people with direct knowledge of the matter said in November. No representatives of Zynga were present, the people said.

Zynga, an early beneficiary of Facebook's gaming platform, aggressively marketed its titles, and some users grew unhappy with the barrage of marketing from its programs, such as "FarmVille." More recently, Facebook has distanced itself from Zynga and tried to emphasize a greater variety of games. It is also put stricter controls on how much developers can market to users.

“If you’ve got games that are a little bit different from what’s out there, we're happy to figure out how to make the platform work for you,” Ryan said. “The diversity continues to grow on the platform."

Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company rose less than 1% to $25.21 at Tuesday's close in New York. The shares have fallen 34% since Facebook’s initial public offering in May.

Separately, the company said it is expanding Facebook Exchange, a service that lets advertisers target users based on their Web-browsing history. Until now, such ads could only be placed along the right-hand side of home pages for desktop users. Now, these ads can be placed in the main News Feed, where members see postings from friends and brands they follow.

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Writer: Bloomberg News
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