Originally Published February 2, 2010
When Facebook began enforcing new policy changes in mid December, it was called a “philosophical approach to platform governance.” As Inside Facebook reported, “instead of trying to spell out all the rules in detail, it is laying out more general principles and reserving the right to make policy enforcements when its policy team deems doing so to be necessary.”
Looking at what has and hasn’t been enforced since the changes were implemented helps provide some intriguing insight into the policy team’s thinking thus far.
Forced Gifting Nearly Eradicated
Just about every game launched prior to the changes in December had gifts (where users send gifts to friends – in most cases to users not already playing the game) first and foremost in their viral marketing strategy – still evident by the number of games where the first menu tab is “Free Gifts” or “Send Gifts.” In reviewing 98 game applications with over 100,000 daily active users (DAU), only about 20% of them did NOT have a gifts component (the largest was Pop Cap’s Bejeweled Blitz with 2.8 million DAU).
The policy:”You must not prompt users to send invitations, requests, generate notifications, or use other Facebook communication channels immediately after a user allows access or returns to your application.”
At the end of January, among games with over 100,000 DAU, only four appear to push users to send a gift to others prior to playing the game: Happy Farm (940,000 DAU), Farkle (840,000 DAU), Garden World (260,000 DAU) and Las Vegas Slots (210,000 DAU). That said, Playdom titles like Sorority Life and Mobsters 2 are pushing the envelope a bit, actually taking users to a gifts screen when you click the Jobs and Missions tabs respectively. So while not necessarily the first thing users see when they come to the application, users still must skip the gifts screen (or send items to their friends) before they can actually engage in the game.
While gifts have often been considered social spam (with some developers specifically not including gifts because they feel they are too spammy), they have become a very powerful way to get users to interact around a game and one can imagine a gifting mechanism that is a more natural extension of the game’s social aspects.
For more details and additional reporting from Eric Eldon who talked directly with the Facebook Application team, see the full post at Inside Social Games