Bebo Games has officially launched this week, with the company reporting successful numbers for developer and user interest. Bebo Games are offered through several partnerships with game developers, and the top-down approach taken by AOL-owned Bebo means a more uniform game experience for end users.
What Bebo has done with its game platform is integrate it with several of its existing features, such as chat, messages and other forms of notifications. This means that users can do things like challenge other users to a game directly from their chat window. It also means that developers have more immediate access to users for the purpose of encouraging them to return to their games.
Ultimately it means more monetization opportunities for Bebo and developers. With Bebo enabling game integration on a more ubiquitous level, developers can better gauge their own expectations of their reach across Bebo’s platform. For users, the games are more seamless and tied in directly with their Bebo experience. Whether or not users will appreciate this level of interactivity is to be determined on an individual level. But a significant portion of social network users enjoy wasting time with casual gaming.
The social factor is meant to further increase user engagement on Bebo’s site, essentially turning it into a social gaming platform. With this type of implementation, Bebo is separating its capacity to appeal to a wider pool of application developers and appealing heavily to game publishers. So far this has been the more lucrative route to go, especially for those social networks seeking additional and more direct monetization opportunities with end users.
hi5 has taken a similar approach to its social network, building out its platform on an administrative level for games to plug into. The presence of its virtual currency provides a leveling factor for marketplace exchanges within its social gaming environment, giving hi5 more control over the platform in its entirety. Friendster too is looking for a more direct form of integrated game play as well, combining several aspects of casual gaming and social networking.
Considering the moves by Bebo, hi5 and others, the growing desire to improve on many aspects of Facebook’s own application platform involve the top-down approach. Facebook has been surrounded with expectations of a similar platform roll out, but the regulations regarding such an approach would conflict with some existing terms for app developers, among other things.
With Facebook’s own recent changes to its terms policy for its platform and rapid game platform integration from several of Facebook’s competitors, the question of how Facebook can improve its own platform for monetization and the establishment of social platform standards remains partially unanswered.