Facebook has rolled out an update for its iOS app which allows developers to distribute HTML5-based games. Users are now able to purchase, bookmark and play the third-party apps from within the platform, as well as purchase Facebook Credits.
The update, part of the ongoing Project Spartan, will also allow developers to take advantage of Facebook's requests and news feed to virally market their apps – even if they want to distribute a native version of the application. However, HTML5 developers who wish to use Facebook Credits as a payment mechanism must do so exclusively.
Full details on the update can be viewed on Facebook's developer blog.
However, the announcement comes in the wake of analyst group IHS Screen Digest's report which claims that games on Facebook's main site are suffering a blip. According to the report the top 20 biggest game operators on Facebook are seeing a steady drop in daily user retention, a downward trend that has been affecting developers – including heavyweights such as Zynga and PopCap – for the first three quarters of 2011.
According to Screen Digest, user engagement has fallen on average by around one per cent, from 19-20 to 18-19 per cent.
“I think we’re seeing two things here,” Screen Digest analyst Steve Bailey told Develop. “Firstly, the extent of competition is greater than ever before, and so more ‘floating’ players are moving on more quickly if they’re not successfully snagged.
"Games from top operators hit their MAU-acquisition peak very quickly, upon which the battle begins for retention, leading us to the second point: that is, the importance of more effective conversion and monetisation of the core audience of a game, an initiative that key operators – including Zynga and EA – appear to be making progress on.”
The report claims that in 2001 the user engagement ratio for FarmVille, the second-biggest Facebook game in the site's history, fell from thirty to twenty per cent, while PopCap's Bejeweled Blitz dropped from 35 to 30 per cent. But even given this drop, Bailey doesn't see any cause for concern.
“Given the age of both of these games, though, this continued retention is an achievement,” Bailey stressed. “Big new launches such as CityVille and Empires & Allies haven’t been picking up the slack, at least not yet; it’s still early days, given the potential prospective lifespans."