Over the past year, Facebook has steadily worked to make Credits the only payments option on its platform, but has given few specifics details on what it's doing during the transition. Below, we take a fresh look at Facebook, its top developers and the platform providers to help clear up where Credits will go in 2011.
Although it has never said so explicitly and publicly, Facebook has required, one by one, all major developers to sign five-year agreements agreeing to use Credits exclusively. That's instead of the direct credit card payments, third-party offer walls, game cards, and other payment options that have until now been the main ways to buy virtual currency for social games and apps on the platform.
Facebook's initial plan was to fully transition to Credits by the end of 2010, but the results might not be obvious today. For example, the two largest games on the platform — CityVille and FarmVille — show an offer wall, game cards, and a variety of other non-Credits payment methods.
Yet these two games, along with most others from leading developers, have already integrated Credits as the only method of paying using credit cards. As you can see in the screenshot below, you're directed to spend your Credits, not buy the City Cash game currency directly. And that means Facebook is already beginning to make a significant amount of money from virtual goods revenue in social games.
Direct payments currently account for over 80 percent of revenue in most social games, as we cover in our Inside Virtual Goods: The Future of Social Gaming report, and that proportion has been increasing steadily over the last few years. So, because Facebook takes a 30 percent cut of all Credits revenue, it is now beginning to pull in a large portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on virtual goods on the platform.
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