With the massive growth in social gaming over the past 12 months, I felt it was necessary to get some first hand experience on what makes these games so successful. Though I’m still studying the space, one takeaway from the experience was Facebook’s design to become your new desktop.
What do I mean by this? Just look at these two pictures.
The first image shows Facebook in my browser at fullscreen (F11 on Firefox and IE). This should not look surprising to anyone who has used Facebook recently to play a flashed based game. What is interesting is when you compare this image to the image of a clean install of Windows XP.
The “Start” menu in Windows is replaced by the “Applications” in Facebook. Bookmarked application buttons give you access to the Facebook apps you access often. This is a direct copy of the quick launch icons in the windows taskbar (not shown in this screenshot). On the bottom right of the Facebook window is the chat client that mimics a chat program (say MSN) in your system tray.
Facebook has taken a user interface (UI) that the majority of computer users are familiar (Windows XP), and reproduced it online. This may be due to the Microsofts investment in Facebook, or just a reflection of their chummy relationship. My opinion on Facebook’s strategy is a bit more nefarious. The end goal is to kill the heavyweight OS, and instead have users connect directly to the web when they boot up their computers and spend all their computer time in Facebook.