Farewell, Facebook Credits

By David Cohen 

Sept. 12 has come and gone, and when the calendar turned to Sept. 13 Friday morning, Facebook Credits joined New Coke, the eight-track tape, and dinosaurs on the extinct list, as the social network completed its conversion to local currency, which was made official in March and first announced in June 2012.

Facebook Product Management Director Prashant Fuloria wrote in a June 2012 developer blog post:

By supporting pricing in local currency, we hope to simplify the purchase experience, give you more flexibility, and make it easier to reach a global audience of Facebook users who want a way to pay for your applications and games in their local currencies. With local pricing, you will be able to set more granular and consistent prices for non-U.S. users and price the same item differently on a market-by-market basis.

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March, Games Partner Engineer Daniel Schultz offered developers more details on the conversion:

Since we’re removing the concept of in-game credits, you will actually be selling your currency directly via our new payment API (application-programming interface) … I can set a price of $4.99 in the U.S., a price of €3.99 for those who are using the euro, and even a price of £3.69 for those who are on the British pound. Since I’m defining all these prices, all of these are static — they stay the same from day to day — thus creating a better user experience.

The social network also provided extensive information in a March developer blog post:

When Facebook Credits launched in 2011, developers needed to price virtual goods in $0.10 increments, which did not provide the pricing flexibility that developers wanted. For some game developers, credits also introduced a secondary currency on top of an in-game currency. With local currency payments, developers set prices based on a person’s preferred currency, like Euros or Japanese Yen, for a more seamless purchase.

We are simplifying the purchase experience for users, and also making the transaction process faster for developers. The updated Facebook payments requires fewer callbacks to complete transactions and improves caching for a quicker payments flow for users.

Local currency payments also provide more flexibility and control for international pricing of in-game goods and virtual currencies. Developers can now price directly in international currencies without the $0.10 restrictions, thus making it easier to set consistent prices for non-U.S. users.

For example, a developer can now choose to price 1,500 “pirate rubies” for $9.99 or 1,600 pirate rubies for €7.99 for roughly the same value.

And in yet another developer blog post in June, Facebook offered the following suggestions to developers to prepare for the Sept. 12 cutoff date:

Local currency payments give developers much more control over their pricing and payments. As a result of the new payments API, you can now:

  • Set prices for in-game items by market so users in different countries see the most marketable prices relevant to their currency.
  • Cache static prices with Facebook and remove the blocking server request to collect item information at time of purchase, improving your app’s performance. Optionally, the pricing callback can still be used to price items dynamically, giving you full flexibility when deciding how to price your items.
  • Realize additional reduced latency as a result of fewer server requests for payment completion, like the second server request to confirm order fulfillment and real-time updates to confirm the transaction.

Facebook Product Manager Deborah Liu discussed the conversion with TechCrunch, saying:

Most users were actually spending in one game or a couple of games. Local currency payments were benefiting (developers) more than using Credits. We put a bunch of work in to speed up the call back and reduce latency and make it faster to render the payment flow, and make the purchase.

Liu added that any past purchases that were made with Facebook Credits will be converted into local currencies.

Readers: Did Facebook make the right move in phasing out Facebook Credits in favor of local currencies?