'It's about being the social layer on every app, on every platform,' says Simon Cross

Facebook refutes developer exodus claims

Facebook is not worried about developers moving their games off the social network and on to mobile devices, says engineer and developer relations manager Simon Cross.

Speaking to Develop, Cross said developers had not been moving away from the social network, but were in fact building Facebook into their mobile apps.

During the last year, Facebook’s biggest game developer Zynga has lost considerable market share since launching its IPO, and has cancelled a plethora of games in recent months as it downsizes its operations, while it’s also moving to its own website, Zynga.com and increasingly into mobile.

Publishing giant EA has also taken lengths to move away from social gaming on the web, laying off a number of staff at Playfish and terminating Facebook games The Sims Social, Pet Society and SimCity Social.

In a statement, EA claimed that the titles would be shut down as of June 14th due to a large decline in player activity, despite having around seven million monthly average users between them.

Cross however stated that Facebook was not concerned by any perceptions of a developer exodus from Facebook, and said a number of developers were still using the social network as a key feature for their games on iOS and Android.

“Is there a worry? Not necessarily,” he said.

“So this is something that people get wrong all the time, and I’ll be really clear about this. Are developers moving away from Facebook? No. They’re building Facebook into their apps. Just because they’re building iOS and Android versions of their apps, does that mean they’re moving away from Facebook? No.”

He added: “Look at the coverage of the top grossing apps, Facebook is baked into those experiences. And again it’s just about being where your users are. They’ll use it if you do, if you want to be on that experience.

“If you take Candy Crush Saga, they went from being a desktop web game, to being a desktop plus iOS developer. What we’re discovering is game developers who build games for iOS and Android, they’re integrating Facebook, finding it works so well, and then they’re going back and building versions of their games on the web.”

Cross went on to cite the example of Angry Birds as an example of how developers were using the desktop web as a platform for fast iteration to develop their mobile games, finding out what works, and then porting them to mobile.

He also highlighted the fact that last year Facebook paid out $2 billion to developers on the site, whilst canvas installs grew 75 per cent, figures that could suggest that a move to mobile is not a deep cause for concern for the social networking outfit.

“Our games business continues to grow despite Zynga’s proportion of it falling, and I think it’s really interesting that a lot of that growth is coming from European game developers who are absolutely killing it right now around the world, and not just Candy Crush Saga," said Facebook’s head of developer advocacy James Pearce, also speaking to Develop.

“So there’s been pretty amazing growth.”

Cross added: “That just speaks to everything that we’re trying to do. It’s just about being the social layer on every app, on every platform, that’s where we want to be.”

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