Playfish’s Pet Society has implemented the Like button on virtual goods in the game — one of the first, if not the first such integrations by any developer after Facebook began allowing them to put Like buttons on specific content within their apps last week.
When users visit the Marketplace and view a virtual good, they now have the option to show it to their friends by Liking it. Playfish is utilizing this new viral distribution channel to entice potential users with in-game content before they install.
Previously, one could only Like a Facebook application as a whole, and not any specific content within the app. This prevented users from sharing virtual goods, mini-games, leaderboards, or other content. If another user clicked on the wall story generated by the Like button, they’d first have to install the app before seeing any content. Pet Society has been a top Playfish title for years, and it was an early adopter of Facebook Connect, employing it so user could play on its website.
Now if you click on a Like button within Pet Society, it posts a “[Your name] likes Cute Dalmation Plushie” story to your wall. If someone else clicks the story, instead of seeing the install prompt they’ll be brought to a special virtual good display screen which exists outside of Pet Society. There they’ll see options to Like the good, comment on it, or start playing the game, even if that person isn’t logged into Facebook. Comments can be posted to only that virtual good’s page, or also as a rich story to your wall. Users can show off a virtual good by distributing the stable URL of its display screen, even if they haven’t purchased it.
By freeing the virtual good from the confines of the social game, Playfish makes the good more valuable. Users could create a virtual good gallery by listing links to their goods or email them to those not on Facebook. By removing the install hurdle and displaying enticing in-game content next to a large “Play Now!” button, social game developers will use in-game Likes to gain new users and sell more virtual goods.