Photo: Andrew Feinberg via Flickr
Facebook is announcing the next phase in its roll-out of its virtual currency Facebook Credits, which is leaving beta testing today.That means all Facebook game developers will be able to start using Credits as their payment system for virtual goods — in fact, Facebook is requiring them to make the switch by July.
The company planned to make the announcement at noon Pacific today, but it’s releasing the news a little early after TechCrunch got the scoop from an unidentified source and predicted that decision would “ruffle some feathers.”
That’s probably true, though the transition is already well underway. In the past year, Facebook held occasionally tense negotiations with the biggest social game developers like Zynga to bring them on-board with the program.
During the beta period, 150 developers starting using Credits in 350 applications, representing more than 70 per cent of all the virtual goods transactions in Facebook, according to Credits product manager Deb Liu. She emphasised that while the big deals attracted the most attention, Facebook made sure to include large and small developers in the beta.
Liu told me the move should improve user experience by turning Credits into Facebook’s “universal currency,” one that can be used in any game.
And come July, Facebook will be pushing for even deeper integration of Credits. Right now, Liu said games can use Credits in two ways — as a way to purchase the in-game currency, or as the in-game currency itself. In Zynga’s popular game CityVille, for example, you can use Credits to buy City Cash, which in turn buys virtual goods. Facebook, however, wants developers to get rid of those other currencies, so that users can buy virtual goods directly with Credits. Facebook will be offering incentives like prominent placement on the site’s games dashboard to developers who make the switch.
Facebook may have a financial incentive to make these changes, since it takes a 30 per cent cut of all Credits purchases. In the past, the company’s executives have said that they don’t expect the program to be a big moneymaker initially, and that any profits would be reinvested in the Credits product. When I asked about that today, Liu said Credits revenue will “enable us to invest more into the platform.”