Facebook App Center hands-on: Big games bubble to the top, small guys stay hidden
Facebook's new App Center, not to be confused with Apple's App Store, has officially arrived. This new directory includes listings for all apps, but we're most interested in games. The App Center includes listings for games that live on Facebook as well as iOS, Android and the web. Find games by searching through lists of genres, e.g. board games, card games, puzzle, simulation, et al. Each of these listings are further broken down by top rated, recommended, trending and friends' games.
It's a nice way to get a quick view of all of the top games on Facebook, but this setup limits you to finding and playing only the most popular games. For the average Joe, that's probably just fine. But for someone who closely watches the industry or just wants to get their new or small game in front of eyeballs, that might be tough. Out of all of the sorting options on the App Center, there was no way to surface 'new' games. Maybe this is something Facebook will consider adding on later.
The idea of finding and downloading mobile games from Facebook is also compelling, but that discovery experience seems a little convoluted at the moment. The user flow works something like this: You can spot mobile games by a small smartphone icon located on the game's promo image. Click on the game listing, and you're directed to an information page like this one for Infinity Blade II (above), a popular mobile action game, which includes a description, a few screenshots and a button that says 'Send to Mobile.'
Click the button and then you'll see a notification in the Facebook mobile app that says 'Infinity Blade II is ready to play on your mobile phone. Start playing." Click that and you're (finally) redirected to the Apple App Store, where you can purchase, download and play the game. It's not exactly a one- or two-click experience that we hoped it would be.
As for web games, there don't seem to be many (if any) included in the App Center, though that was initially part of the Facebook's plan for this app. Again, maybe this is something we'll see more of in the future. There are, however, links to other web-based apps in other included genres, such as Pinterest, Yelp and Hulu.
While this doesn't seem to be the perfect solution to finding new games on Facebook and other platforms, it's certainly a massive improvement to the previous Facebook game discovery experience, or non-experience, that existed before. It'll be interesting to see how (and if) this changes social gaming in the coming weeks.
Check out the Facebook App Center for yourself at facebook.com/appcenter.