Inside Virtual Goods: Facebook Credits Gaining in Popularity, But Still New to Many Users

[Editor’s note: Charles Hudson is a co-author of our Inside Virtual Goods industry research report series, a Venture Partner with SoftTech VC, and the CEO and Co-Founder of Bionic Panda Games, a mobile games company based in San Francisco, CA.]

In May 2011, the Inside Virtual Goods team conducted our second annual survey of social games players. Yesterday we released the findings of the report, “Inside Virtual Goods: Spending and Usage Habits of the Social Gaming Audience 2011.” Today’s post is intended give you a sense for some of the more interesting findings in the report.

The 2011 survey, which reached out to nearly 2,000 active social games players on Facebook, covers a wide variety of topics, including how players discover games, how players spend their time and money across games, and a deeper dive on the spending and gameplay habits of “whales” — the top spenders in the social gaming ecosystem.

With the impending mandatory implementation of Facebook Credits coming on July 1st, 2011, we wanted to get a sense for how familiar the most engaged social games player were with Facebook Credits. As part of this year’s survey, we asked players a number of questions about their familiarity with and usage of Facebook Credits to date so as to have a baseline prior to the switch. Here’s more on what we found.

The first question we asked the survey respondents was whether they had heard of Facebook Credits. Keep in mind that the survey population here was people who are generally active social games players, playing multiple games on a daily basis:

Roughly two thirds of the audience we surveyed was familiar with Facebook Credits, which seems appropriate given that Facebook Credits are available in a number of games but are not yet mandatory across the Facebook social games landscape.

Slicing the data a bit further, we were able to get a sense for how Facebook Credits awareness varies by geography. Not surprisingly, Facebook Credits has the greatest awareness in North America by a fairly significant margin.

Of those who mentioned familiarity with Facebook Credits, we asked them a follow-up question as to whether they had actually made a purchase using Facebook Credits. Of those who were familiar with Facebook Credits, nearly half of them reported having actually used Facebook Credits to actually make a purchase:

Again, we took a look at the data on a regional basis and found that North America once again was the dominant region in which we found users who had used Facebook Credits to make a purchase in a game. Results show that Facebook Credits is beginning to get a good beachhead in North America, with less traction in the other major geographies around the globe.

Finally, we asked those survey respondents who had familiarity with Facebook Credits whether the Facebook Credits system made it easier to buy things in games:

In addition to the question, we also gave them the opportunity to provide us with some free-response feedback on whether they’ve used Facebook Credits and whether they think Facebook Credits make it easier to make purchases. We’ve included some of the more interesting free-response quotes below:

“Yes, because with FB Credits, it’s a lot easier to buy things in different games without having to buy cash to each game individually: it’s more practical, and economical.” – Male, 13-18, Portugal

“I prefer to use the [company-specific] game cards. It’s just easier for me personally.” – Female, 37-42, United States

“I only use Facebook Credits: I wont give my credit card info to individual game companies. If they don’t allow FB credits, I won’t buy” – Female, 37-42, United States