This year's Game Developers Conference has two new tracks for the new kids in town: the Social & Online Games Summit and the iPhone Games Summit. Facebook's Gareth Davis delivered the keynote for the former this morning, titled "How Friends Change Everything." With 400 million users, 200 million of whom are playing games on the service, it's pretty hard to argue with Facebook's bona fides as a seriously huge gaming platform. With components like Facebook Connect, we're even seeing Facebook functionality penetrate the historically isolated game consoles, like Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and even DSi.
While Microsoft trumpets the largely dubious distinction of being the "largest social network on television," it doesn't compare favorably to what most of us consider to be a real "social network." Outside of the Facebook integration, adding friends on Xbox Live is a largely manual process; one obfuscated by aliases instead of real names, the basic litmus test of a social network. Indeed, Davis thinks "real identities" are a major component to Facebook's gaming magic. Playing against real people is "much more compelling than playing against SharkBoy69," says Davis. When it comes to real identity in games, Davis says we're just "scratching the surface."