In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in the confines of his dorm room. His sole purpose then was to keep the campus updated about ongoing dating activity! Facebook sure has come a long way since then. Having finally crossed the milestone of 500 million users the world over, Facebook is the largest frequented social networking website. Zuckerberg, CEO, has managed to maintain the monopoly on the networking market by keeping in mind the privacy of tens of millions of users and by providing an open and free forum for gaming and other software development, even recommending the internationalization of these gaming Apps.

Spamming to Maintain Viral Growth

Facebook has a large platform available for gaming and as such, there are times when the privacy of Facebook users might be threatened by the increasing infiltration of gaming notifications and through it, spam. At the onset of March 2010, Facebook announced a removal of notifications. Most games had gained considerable popularity and fan bases due to the sending of these automatic notifications and updates. These notifications served the purpose of keeping the games in the foreground of a Facebook user’s attention. User engagement was acquired and maintained through this channel. Facebook chose to do away with this as some game developers use this channel so ferociously that it becomes crammed with spam. Keeping the users comfort in mind, this change will be welcome. Viral growth of gaming titles, owing to these application notifications will be checked. This is consistent with Facebook’s efforts to make interactions with the large variety of applications “more streamlined, clear, and less spammy forusers”.

The relationship between gaming developers and users of Facebook needs a bridge for communication. For some time, application notifications have fulfilled this role admirably. With these new changes being put into effect, developers will have to come up with new ways to communicate with users. It is not an impossible task but simply an encumbrance. In the meanwhile, it would be impossible to assume it will be business as usual with these changes being implemented. Developers will need time to adapt their gaming design to fit the change in user communication.

Developers Suffer

A period of reduced usage of the games has to be factored in. Already, with the change being brought about, big developers like Zynga, Playdom, Playfish, RockYou, SlashKey and CrowdStar are showing losses of millions of users. Zynga’s Farmville alone seems to be losing almost 7.7 million users monthly.Playfish’s Pet Society lost 2 million users while CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium lost 4 million gamers.

Though many gamers continue to argue that Facebook’s changed policy has had little or no affect on the existing users of the games as lack of notifications only hamper the chances of new users getting hooked on to the games. Then the loss of users could be attributed to the fact that these games are incredibly time consuming and demanding due to their contiguity and therefore, it was just a matter of time that users lost interest. Whatever the cause, a change in the format and user interface of these games is required to continue user patronage.