Facebook Credits – Part 2: What's Here and What's Next

In Part 1, we looked at the history of Facebook Credits and the varying degrees of the many phases of the rollout. Here, in Part 2, we look at what's available today and what we can expect soon.

In Facebook Credits – Part 1, we looked at the history of Facebook Credits and the varying degrees of the many phases of the rollout. Now available in at least 14 applications, Facebook Credits is moving from a small number of test applications to widespread implementation. So what applications are Credits now available in and what’s in the immediate future for Facebook Credits? We will answer those questions in more in the second part of our two part series on Facebook Credits.

Facebook Credits Today

First off, Facebook Credits are now usable within a host of Facebook Applications. The list is shown below and is rapidly growing.

On the majority of these games, Facebook Credits can be used to purchase virtual currencies to buy virtual goods within the game. Happy Island by Crowdstar uses Facebook Credits exclusively for its in-game purchases, allowing you to purchase upgrades for your various Happy Island buildings immediately. The concept of ‘one-click purchases’ is in full effect here, and people who have Facebook Credit balances can make a quick payment without any sign-ups or credit card hassles.

Credits on Farmville

The big news is that FarmVille will reportedly be implementing Facebook Credits. While we’ve been hearing for a year-and-a-half that the Credits system was about to be ‘released’, this is probably the biggest real news so far. Farmville will not use Credits exclusively, but a “Pay with Facebook” button will be located beside the existing payment service offers, allowing you to buy Farmville Coins. I imagine that this is the first step, and eventually, as Zynga always does, they will iterate the shop page to include one-click purchasing options for users. This would involve showing item prices in Facebook Credits and allowing users to purchase virtual goods as well as currency.

Along with the news, we learn a few financial details about the Credits system. Facebook will take a Apple-esque 30% cut of all Facebook Credits profits, and rumors state that FarmVille alone could significantly boost Facebook’s revenues.

What’s Next?

So what’s next for Facebook Credits? News is pretty slim, but with Facebook releasing Credits to their #1 most popular application (at 75 million Monthly Active Users), we can certainly expect them to start releasing Credits to the other top applications as well.

Also, looking to some of their previous experiments, we can see that they have tried peer-to-peer Credit exchanges. For a short while, people could gift “credits” to other users for interesting status updates. This kind of social exchange of credits is a very interesting idea, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they try this more.

Finally, I expect to see some sort of experiment involving Facebook Connect. This has benefits to Facebook Users, Facebook Connect-enabled Site Operators and Facebook itself. Users get the one-click payment ability no matter where they are on the web, effectively bringing their “Facebook Wallet” wherever they go. Site operators increase ARPU by facilitating easier purchases. Facebook wins by of course, selling more Facebook Credits. I feel the reason that Facebook has been taking its time with the Credits system, is because they are envisioning Facebook Credits to become a very important part of web commerce.

Interesting to note is that virtual currencies within games are not exchangeable back to Facebook Currency at all, as that would walk the fine line of the US Unlawful Gambling Act, which states that virtual currencies cannot be extracted for real cash (although there are a few ways to get around that, apparently).

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