Oberon Media today announced the company’s first game to feature micro-transactions (a term for players using real-world currency to buy virtual items) with the launch I-play’s Bubble Town: Party Planet for Facebook. The announcement is part of an overall company strategy to deliver free-to-play, micro-transaction-enabled game experiences across multiple platforms.

Developed by I-play, Oberon Media’s publishing division, Bubble Town: Party Planet is an upgrade to the company’s successful Bubble Town Facebook application, which has been played more than 120 million times. Overall, the Bubble Town franchise has been played by more than 5 million unique players through PC download, mobile, iPhone and iPod touch, Facebook and MySpace since the colorful arcade bubble-popper launched on PC in 2006.

Bubble Town: Party Planet will be the first application to offer micro-transactions through a virtual currency called BubbleBucks. Players can purchase BubbleBucks online or earn them through in-game achievements such as high scores, skilful play and inviting friends to join. BubbleBucks can be used to purchase power-ups, extra level packs, and other in-game activities such as the ability to keep playing after a level defeat.

Starting today, players can join the Bubble Town: Party Planet Open Beta via Facebook. For a limited time, players who join will receive 2,000 free BubbleBucks.

Oberon Media’s Chief Operating Officer, Don Ryan, said the company sees huge opportunity and growth potential with micro-transaction-enabled content.

“It is our goal to bring a whole new casual gaming experience to players, and a profitable platform model to our Game Center partners,” Ryan added. “We decided to enter this category with Bubble Town: Party Planet because Bubble Town is I-play’s most successful online franchise. The new version will entice both new and old fans of the series as it brings the experience to an even higher level.”

Starting with Bubble Town: Party Planet and moving forward, Oberon Media plans to distribute free-to-play micro-transaction-enabled games across all of its platforms including social networks, iPhone, mobile, and partners of its Game Center platform. The company will also continue to integrate new virtual economies into its most successful gaming franchises, and in the coming months, will roll out scalable virtual commerce systems to Game Center partners.