Facebook is notifying game developers that they will need to implement Facebook Credits, its universal virtual currency system that the site takes a cut from, to their titles on the social network starting July.
Introduced in June 2009, the Credits system allows users to purchase virtual currency that they can spend in all participating apps and games on Facebook. It's meant to serve as a more portable alternative to game- and publisher-specific options, which have stricter limits on where people can use their virtual currency.
Many of Facebook's biggest game developers have already integrated Credits into their games, with some like Electronic Arts and CrowdStar even signing five-year agreements to use the universal virtual currency exclusively. Around 150 developers have added support for Credits across 350 titles during the system's beta-testing phase.
The social network admits some developers might not be happy with this requirement for their titles, which is why it's announcing the change five months in advance. Deborah Liu, Credits' product marketing manager, said the company wants to "have an open conversation with developers", according to a report
Facebook has a big incentive to make Credits mandatory for all its games, as the site takes a 30 percent cut on transactions with the virtual currency, while developers receive the rest. It also argues that having a standard system will lower the barrier of entry for users wanting to buy virtual currency compatible with multiple applications.
Developers can continue using other virtual currencies alongside Credits, but Facebook will require users to buy Facebook Credits that would be then used to buy those virtual currencies.
Facebook will offer special benefits to companies that use Credits exclusively, including early access to product features, as well as "premium promotion" on the site with featured placement on the Games Dashboard, premium targeting for ads, and new co-promotion opportunities.
"Over the next five months, we will work closely with developers to onboard those who are not yet using Facebook Credits, collect feedback to improve the product, continue to innovate on the user experience, and help developers grow their revenue on Facebook," says Liu,
She adds, "We're excited to give Facebook users the confidence that when they purchase Facebook Credits or receive them as a gift, they can spend them in any game on Facebook."