From Techcrunch … Facebook Credits now mandatory …
Facebook is about to ruffle some feathers. We’re hearing from one source that the social network is reaching out to game developers to inform them that it is making its own, official Facebook Credits currency mandatory. Our understanding is that it will be the exclusive currency as well.
It’s a move that’s been a long time coming — there has been speculation that Facebook would do this for a year now, spurring plenty of angst in the developer community. But Facebook has taken things slowly.
Despite telling the community that it was still early for the Credits platform and that it was considering various options, Facebook also spent the last year working out deals with the biggest developers — like Zynga, Playdom, Playfish, and CrowdStar — to make sure they were on board with its Credits system. Now that the developers with serious leverage are taken care of, it’s time for everyone else to make the change.
Facebook’s argument is that Credits are good for users and developers alike. There’s a higher barrier to entry if a user has to pull out their wallet to buy a different currency every time they play a new game — using the same currency lowers this bar. It also means there’s less of a lock-in factor, and Facebook can do its part to educate and promote the use of Credits to get everyone used to paying real money for virtual goods.
Of course, Facebook gets something out of it: they take an industry-standard 30% cut whenever users purchase anything with Facebook Credits. That can add up to a lot of money — we’ve heard elsewhere that Zynga is paying Facebook around $30 million a month for its Credits tax.
This is about more than purple cows and gold coins, too — in the long run, Facebook has a strong incentive to maximize the number of users who are signed up for Credits. Right now the vast majority of Credits are spent on gaming, but it’s very likely that Facebook will eventually begin allowing third-party websites to offer a ‘Pay With Facebook’ option, and that may include everything from digital content to physical goods. The more credit cards Facebook has in its system, the more appealing this option will become, and the more publishers and retailers will be willing to pay that 30% fee.