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l A considerable majority of Facebook users live outside the United States.
l There are more females than males on Facebook in total, and in every indi-
vidual age bracket.
l While 18- to 25-year-olds represent the largest single age group on Facebook,
the majority of Facebook users are 25 or older.
These figures should help solidify our earlier comments about game design,
thematic focus, and the need to consider localization for social games. For tra-
ditional game developers, the need to rethink exactly who our markets are in
light of this social sea change is paramount to achieving success.
6.6 In Search of a Common Development
Platform
In a world where Zynga has something of a stranglehold on the Facebook
games market and there are so many exciting smaller social networks out there
that boast substantial user populations likely to be eager for high-quality gam-
ing experiences, wouldn't it be nice if developing for each were a little easier?
Google agreed, and a few years ago they announced the creation of an API that
would attempt to make it easier for software developers to write applications
that would be portable between social networks. They called it Open Social,
and it sought to provide a common framework for implementing social network
features.
This forward-thinking maneuver could be seen as a too-little too-late effort
to help companies like MySpace (also involved in the project) defend them-
selves against Facebook's growing power. However, despite a few early hitches
with beta versions of the API, releases post V1.0 were generally well received
(at least conceptually). Bebo, Ning, hi5, Friendster, Orkut, LinkedIn and other
social networks embraced the new API, which offered a number of common
feature sets geared toward making common social networking tasks easier.
However, in practice, the individual nuances which help social networks stand
out from one another end up making a common framework difficult to plan,
and difficult to implement to great effect. It's hard to build a system that is
powerful but flexible enough to work well on many different networks.
In recent months, Google has grown ever quieter about Open Social, and
engineers who reviewed code from the recently released Google+ believe
there is no indication that Google's own social network makes use of the API.
Although this may indicate that Open Social is destined for obscurity, the core
notion of a set of standards and a powerful universal API for social network
software developers is a good one. To use an example from two decades ago:
although the Windows platform has been much derided as being buggy, over-
weight, and so on, there is no doubt that the common programming standard
Microsoft provided for application developers helped drive the widespread
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