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Facebook to court core with "AAA game experiences"

If you think that Facebook is only good for me-too cookie-cutter social games and cut-down core-IP tie-ins, then Matt Wyndowe, Facebook's games product manager, would like to set a few things straight.

Speaking to GI International, Facebook's games product manager, Matt Wyndowe, explained how the social site's attitude to games and gamers has changed in a few short years:

"Games are extremely important to us at Facebook," said Wyndowe. "As early as 2010 we didn't have a dedicated games team and now we have 40-plus people working full-time on games. Games are something our users love and our users engage with and they enjoy playing with friends.

"I think what you've seen this year that's interesting is the emergence of games with extremely high production value. We're really focusing on quality and focusing on less traditionally mainstream audiences."

In theory, those that would term themselves as gamers should have been catered for on Facebook by the companies that those gamers most closely identify with. But its only recently that the notion of core IP products being developed for Facebook and intended to to work in conjunction with full-retail releases has begun to gain any traction - a concept that Ubisoft defines as "companion gaming".

However, Wyndowe points to smaller developers such as Kixeye as leading the charge for the core games audience:

"This is a team that is focused on a more hardcore gaming market," Wyndowe said. "They skew way more male than most of our game developers, but what really stands out is that this is the games they produce. These are really high quality games that drive incredible engagement."

It's this kind of focus that Wyndowe believes will drive forward the core games on Facebook concept over the coming months:

"I think it's going to be a massive trend we're going to see this year," Wyndowe said of his expectation to see deeper, console-style, free-to-play experiences on Facebook.

"We showed a teaser of the new Kixeye RPG at GDC and it looked incredibly cool. That trend of taking games and game categories that have not traditionally been on Facebook and putting them there is going to be huge this year.

"If you look at huge franchises that are built like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and those types of games, all of those people are on Facebook and want to engage with their friends in these kinds of things. Kixeye has figured out a perfect intersection where they're focused on high quality experiences."

Kixeye's current Facebook output can be found on the company's Facebook page; a new, Flash 11, 3D RPG is expected from the developer later this year.

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