Zynga CEO: Facebook, MySpace should share user data

At the InterPlay social-gaming conference in San Francisco, Mark Pincus urges major social networks to let developers have access to intelligence about users' behavior.

At the InterPlay social-gaming conference in San Francisco Thursday, representatives from Zynga, Social Gaming Network, Meebo, Kongregate, and InsideFacebook talked about the future of the medium. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News.com

SAN FRANCISCO--Huge social media services like Facebook and MySpace should allow application developers access to intelligence about their users' behavior.

That was the message from Mark Pincus, CEO of social-gaming network Zynga Thursday as he and others spoke on a panel called "The future of online social gaming" at the InterPlay conference here.

The confab is the first devoted entirely to social gaming, and it has attracted a packed house for a series of discussions on things like advertising and marketing on social games, how to fund such games and how to build these games on social media platforms.

But in the morning's first panel, Pincus and others, including Martin Green, the vice president of business development for Meebo; Shervin Pishevar, the CEO of Social Gaming Network; moderator Justin Smith, who writes the InsideFacebook blog; and Jim Greer the CEO of Kongregate, talked about how social gaming has emerged as a growing and important platform.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion came when the panelists began talking about how they could share information about the behavior of their users.

Pishevar suggested that it would be a boon to the social gaming industry if networks like his and Zynga could share information with each other about how their users play the games they create and make available on platforms like Facebook and MySpace.

"Data coming in about gaming interactions between friends is very valuable," Pishevar said. It helps social gaming developers build a "whole intelligence about the games people like to play, who they like to play against, and their skill levels. (It would be great) having a universal feed that connects all the networks."

But Pincus said that while he agreed that such a thing would be a big help, he thinks that doing so would violate the terms of service of Facebook and MySpace.

So he exhorted the big social networks to change the way they do things.

"Right now, it violates the terms of service on every one of these networks," Pincus said, adding that both Facebook and MySpace don't "allow for sharing user data. That's something we as developer community should make a case for them to change, that it's in the users' interest, in their interest, and in our interest."

Whether Facebook, MySpace, or any other social network would see the value Pincus suggested is an entirely different question.

On June 10, Geek Gestalt hits the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, Fla., and visit many of the South's most interesting destinations. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.

 

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