Each week, it seems, we hear about another company choosing to pass by Facebook’s many independent monetization companies and use Credits, the social network’s in-house virtual currency, exclusively. Wooga, a German developer with 9.7 million monthly active users, tells us that it’s the latest.
Last week, we covered RockYou’s decision to use Credits, before the company officially announced a new contract with Facebook this Wednesday. Before RockYou, we reported the switch by LOLapps, which is known for both games and quizzes. Along with CrowdStar, Credits’ biggest cheerleader, that now makes four big companies using Credits exclusively.
There’s an interesting twist to Wooga’s story, though: the company didn’t have to switch to using Credits. For a year, since the July 2009 release of its game Brain Buddies, Wooga lacked any monetization options at all: no ads, no virtual goods, no subscriptions.
Monetization is the focus for most companies, so Wooga’s failure to include it in its first three games – now including Bubble Island and Monster World — sounds naïve. CEO and co-founder Jens Begemann doesn’t have any regrets, though.
“Our goal is more long-term,” Begemann says. “We want to create one of the top three game companies in the world — but we started roughly 20 months later than Playfish or Zynga. Last autumn, we had the decision to either monetize as quickly as possible, or raise venture capital and invest it in growing the userbase. We took that option. It’s a little bit like what Facebook did for a couple of years. We didn’t make money, but we grew.”
Since Wooga is based in Germany, it also publishes its games on StudiVZ, that country’s largest social network with 15 million users versus Facebook’s 10 million. Along with the release of Credits on its Facebook games, Wooga added monetization to its games on StudiVZ, so we naturally wondered how Credits compared.
Surprisingly, Begemann says that Credits perform almost as well as StudiVZ’s payments, which have the advantage of targeting local options like mobile payments.
“We find Facebook Credits are better than they’re being talked about if you deeply integrate them into the gameplay,” says Begemann. “If you look at Monster World, Facebook Credits is the currency, we don’t call it something else. That, as we see it, tends to reduce conversion. But if you make Credits your currency, it works pretty well.”
We’ve written extensively about Credits here at Inside Facebook. For the best of our coverage, check out our in-depth examination of the issues around the virtual currency and our interviews with industry leaders on the pros and cons of Credits, over on Inside Social games.