Facebook Game Spam

On the one hand, I appreciate the job that Facebook has done in building a great multiplayer casual gaming platform, and drawing people into the experience by making players activity in games a part of the regular Facebook experience.

But the constant spam from friends in my newsfeed is annoying, and about 20% of the time I spend playing games is spent figuring out how to play without spamming my friends.

One popular (and typical) game is Mafia Wars.

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Mafia Wars is a gangster role playing game. You have jobs to do, like taking out thugs or robbing progressively more difficult targets, and you can make investments that pay out money every hour. It’s time based – you get more energy and health every few minutes, so it encourages you to check back frequently. It’s fun.
Mafia Wars uses your friends that are also playing as your Mafia. The more friends you have playing, the stronger you are. And the game constantly encourages you to invite your friends.

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Unfortunately, people who get into the games enough will start inviting people who they don’t know, just to get better at the game. This wrecks the rest of your Facebook experience, as you can easily end up with hundreds of “friends” you don’t know cluttering up your newsfeed and everwhere else.

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These games are making money in two ways: Ads, obviously, but also by selling in-game materials for real-world cash. You can buy Godfather Points in Mafia Wars that you can spend on skill upgrades, cash, and so on. That’s fine, I have no problem with how they’re monetizing the games.

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But Facebook needs to come up with some guidelines for these applications to follow, and enforce them, or they are going to start driving people away.