Facebook always seems to find a way to put itself into the news. This time, with their not-so-beloved Facebook Credits currency system. In the past, we have talked about companies like Zynga that were trying to be coerced to solely use Facebook Credits. It now appears that the idea will actually hold water. Amidst a time where Facebook is looking to prove itself to investors and analysts that it is a commercially viable and money-making creature, the company has made it a mandatory policy beginning July 1, 2011 that all games use Facebook Credits as the only way to include real money purchases into games. Developers will still be able to use their in-game currencies but only as an exchange, i.e. Facebook Credits for Farmville Coins.
This change applies to Canvas games only and games used with Facebook Connect do not have to make the change.
Why does this move have such an impact? Follow the break to learn more.
First, let's discuss the positives for the developers. If the games choose to strictly use Facebook Credits instead of their own in-game currency system, they will be given exclusive targeted ad programs and have their in-game items that are available for sale displayed on Facebook's Game Dashboard. That is a definite plus to up-and-coming games looking for a wider exposure at no cost to them other than a currency change.
Another positive note is that players of multiple games won't have to purchase different types of currency on different games. Users can purchase Credits and it stops there. This also lessens the nervousness of users who may not be used to purchasing things online, especially virtual goods, as Facebook will have a universal system that they would widely promote as a safe, secure and easy way to pay and play all of your games.
We have all known this change was going to happen sometime soon, we just didn't know when. What gets me here is the negative impact this will have in the development community. To begin with, it surprised me that the huge developer studios Zynga and Playdom have been reported to have agreed with this change. There's a couple of reasons why. One is the obvious fact that Facebook takes 30% of all things purchased with Facebook Credits, which is money that would otherwise belong to the developers. The other is the Android factor; developers, if they choose to make a game available on another, non-Facebook platform, would have to create two different game interfaces, one that accepts Facebook Credits and one that doesn't.
This move creates a whole new issue, and that is Facebook wanting to scoop up games and lock them in exclusively for their gargantuan-sized beast that cannot be fed. The developers, pressed for time and resources, would be safe under the Facebook umbrella and would only then have to make a game for one platform and not worry about anything else.
Usually this wouldn't be such a big deal. Game exclusivity is a very common practice in the industry but to develop a game only for a social-networking site that not only is broken and altered six times a week, but may not be around in the next three years, thus wasting the already precious said time and resources, is a tough point for me to swallow.
Obviously we know what the next move will be: integrating Facebook Credits into everything else, like affiliate websites with a "Pay with Facebook" option of some sort. It makes sense, too, as the company is already grabbing the largest sector of would-be Facebook Credit users, nabbing their credit cards on their currency system and then going to other partners with that database of users who are (hopefully) already using the currency. Facebook would then be in a position of power where the sky would be the limit.
What do you guys think? Do you use Facebook Credits already? Do you even game on Facebook? Tell us about it in the comments.