The rise of social games over the past year may have seemed alarmingly fast to some, but nothing moves faster than the business behind them. It was just this past May when rumors were circulating about Zynga making a possible break from Facebook over the possibility of forced Facebook credits and a 30% cut going to the Zuckerberg’s social giant. Now, only four months later, Facebook and Zynga have just announced that Zynga will exclusively use Facebook’s in-house currency in all their games on the platform.
In a joint statement released earlier today, the two companies confirmed that “Facebook and Zynga have transitioned Facebook Credits to be the exclusive method of payment for most Zynga network games on the Facebook platform. The companies are committed to working together to provide the best possible customer experience during this transition.” Inside Social Games is reporting that Zynga Poker appears to be the only game not yet transitioned to the Credits system, and TechCrunch is reporting that it’s only a matter of time until that’s changed over too.
Eagle-eyed gamers will be quick to notice that despite the claim of Credits-exclusivity, Zynga games still appear to offer a variety of payment options. Looks, however, can be deceiving. While players will be presented with options including major credit cards, PayPal, and mobile payments, purchasing in-game currency through these methods will really just be a purchase of Facebook Credits that is instantly redeemed for the in-game cash. What does this mean to the consumer? Not much. But for Zynga, it means those credit card purchases lose 30% before showing up in their pockets.
So why would they do this? They may not have much of a choice. Facebook is the de facto social gaming platform, which means their currency is going to be the de facto social gaming currency. And as harsh as a 30% cut might sound, helping gamers get used to the idea of Facebook Credits could prove profitable in the long run. Rather than buying $5 worth of FarmVille currency, in the future it might be commonplace for social gamers to have a virtual wallet full of Facebook Credits that could be spread across a variety of top games. Helping transition players to this mentality could be good business all around. Besides – with nearly every competitor asides from Playfish jumping on the Facebook Credits bandwagon, Zynga was starting to look like the odd man out, regardless of their size.
And it’s not as though all virtual currency purchases will necessarily go through Facebook. Players can still make purchases on sites like FarmVille.com, as well as purchase game cards at participating retailers. We can’t say for sure that Facebook won’t have their hand in the till on these too, but it seems pretty unlikely. Then again, with Facebook Credits now available as in-store gift cards, who knows if Zynga will bother to stay in the game cards market?
If you had any doubts about Facebook Credits’ potential for success, you can lay those to rest. This exclusive deal with Zynga may have just made Facebook’s currency the biggest thing to hit online shopping since PayPal.
[via Inside Social Games]