Et tu, Facebook? Late last year Zynga faced some pretty heavy criticism in light of an article published by Tech Crunch’s Michael Arrington. In Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem of Hell, Arrington explored the shady nature of ‘partner offers’ – a system in which players would sign up for offers and complete surveys in exchange for in-game currency and items. The article was a landmark moment in the brief history of social gaming, as it forced companies like Zynga and OfferPal to adopt more ethical business practices. Now a mere 6 months later, partner offers are back in the limelight – but are they really as troublesome as they once were?
Facebook has just unrolled its first partner offer program for Facebook Credits in association with offer providers TrialPay and Peanut Labs. Users will be able to sign up for offers from reputable businesses like GameFly, VistaPrint and Newsweek and earn Facebook Credits in return. These credits can be spent in a variety of Facebook applications and games including Happy Island, FarmVille and Hotel City.
Numerous sources including Inside Facebook and TechCrunch are vouching for the reputations of the partner companies involved, suggesting that the public relations nightmare that Zynga had faced shouldn’t repeat itself here. Still, it’s incredibly early in the process, and one would assume that it’s only a matter of time until Facebook opens the door to more partners.