Visa’s PlaySpan Finds Life After Facebook Credits Profitable, Educational for Social Game Developers

Though Visa’s somewhat recently acquired PlaySpan can no longer serve as an in-game purchasing method on Facebook, the payment service is still finding profit on the platform now that Facebook Credits are implemented across all social games.

If anything, things have actually gotten better for PlaySpan, says Robb Lewis, Marketing Director at Visa. Through a partnership with Facebook, it provides many of the international payment options for Credits.

“Now we have broader distribution across all Facebook versus a game here and a game there,” he says. “But we would like to see them take [back] our Ultimate Game Card as an in-game payment method. We’re still pushing Facebook for that.”

PlaySpan still gets a lot of millage out of the Ultimate Game Cards, which people can purchase at retail outlets to spend in a variety of PC games. In the past, PlaySpan has even co-branded the cards with Facebook logos, but Lewis concedes there’s small chance of Facebook going back to that now that they have their own Facebook Credits retail cards.

“It might be confusing to users,” he says. “We understand what they’re doing, but we actually have a bit broader distribution platform than Facebook. We actually did very well in Turkey, but Visa Europe as slowed us down there since the acquisition. I would say we’re stronger in some of the Asian markets than Facebook.”

Even without serving as an in-game payment method for social games on Facebook, PlaySpan is still gathering data on those who buy Facebook Credits through its service. According to data collected by the service provider throughout the month of July 2011, PlaySpan finds that women are three times more likely than men to spend Facebook Credits on virtual goods.

As for what kind of virtual goods people buy — and what kind developers ought to make — Lewis says social game developers can learn best practices for offering bonus items as incentives and even a bit about packaging virtual goods for more attractive sales.

“Anything involving bonus items or exclusives, things you can only get once a month or once a week, [players] will respond to very well,” he explains. “The other thing [developers] could learn from [our study] is how packaging up the currency a little bit differently makes people spend more. Like maybe if they buy the next level up, they’re going to get that next item. Retail stores do it where if you pass $30, you get free shipping. There’s a parallel there that we’ve seen in our data for virtual goods where players will spend a little bit more if there’s something extra that they gain if they bump up to the $20 purchase instead of the $10 purchase.”