Facebook Credits Are About To Become Mandatory Currency*

It’s hard to comment on something like this without scratching one’s head until blood pools, but here goes: As reported by Gi, people who do their gaming when they should be working are in for a surprise. Facebook has decided to make Facebook Credits the mandatory currency for buying purchasable Apps. Wait, you say, what the hell is a Facebook Credit? I’m glad you asked, person who doesnt’ spend all day providing excellent fodder for Lamebook. I had no idea either, so I consulted Facebook’s help center and discovered:

Facebook Credits are a virtual currency you can use to buy virtual goods in many games and apps on the Facebook platform.

You can purchase Facebook Credits using your credit card, PayPal, or a mobile phone.

Does this sound like a really kick ass scam idea? Yes, yes it does*. By forcing all App Developers to require payment via Facebook credits, they not only add another layer of douchiness to the experience of people who think Farmville isn’t stupid, they get to skim 30% off the top of every transaction. Recent estimates of Facebook’s revenue are in the billions, and skimming 30% of the estimated 800 million from app purchases, would add, well, a hell of a lot to that total. Which of course would get the Corporate overlord a lot of illegal drugs and endangered species-based dinners.

Finally, a social networking site that figured out how make money from their customers without driving them into the arms of another service and ruining the company!

But, it’s not all cocaine and white tiger parties for the even-more-richer-than-croesus robber barons at the top of Facebook’s company pyramid. Facebook App developers are royally pissed off, and how:

Facebook developers are not pleased with Facebook’s move to force them to use Facebook Credits for in-game purchases of virtual goods, and they’re not shy about expressing it.

Facebook head of commerce product marketing Deborah Liu just finished a panel on stage at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco. The moderator of the panel said he’d heard complaints from small developers that Facebook’s 30% cut will put them out of business, and asked her to respond.

Ohhh yeah, 30%. That’s a lot of money. 30% of you is like your left leg and everything from your right kneecap down. Imagine having to do that every time you sold something. Even Microsoft’s stupid totally useful Points work more like salami slicing that outright extortion, (even if they also cannot be refunded). No wonder developers feel like they’re being shook down. Too bad though, because Facebook reads the news and know that king kong ain’t got [s-word] on them.

Her first sentence — “Every day, every developer gets to choose between our platform and other platforms” — was met with laughter, jeers, and hisses from the audience.

The reason: with more than 500 million users, Facebook is the only social networking platform that really matters for social game developers. They may have a “choice,” but it’s the same kind of choice faced by developers of desktop applications back in the late 1990s — Windows or bust.

It’s true, and Facebook knows it. It’s probably fair to assume little will come of this except for app developers drastically adjusting their spending priorities, though I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of them are exploring the possibility of a FTC anti-trust investigation. We’ll keep on this as it does, or doesn’t develop, and pray that the solution to the American economic crisis isn’t converstion to a Facebook-based economy anytime soon.

*XBLA users, including myself, are of course perfect, wonderful people and definitely not suckers for purchasing Microsoft Points in order to buy precious, precious Mass Effect DLC.

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