Facebook has teamed up with social monetization firm PlaySpan to expand its reach to more users around the globe for its Facebook Credits virtual currency.
Deborah Liu (pictured below, right), manager of product marketing for Facebok Credits, said in a talk at the Virtual Goods Summit in San Francisco that the deal with PlaySpan coincides with a big expansion of the use of Facebook Credits across Facebook’s social apps.
Facebook Credits is a virtual currency. Users can buy it with credit cards or other payment methods and then use the credits to purchase virtual goods in social games, such as fuel for tractors in Zynga’s FarmVille game on Facebook. Facebook keeps a 30 percent stake in every transaction. In return, it promises to deliver more liquidity and user participation in transactions for its app partners.
More than 75 developers are using Facebook Credits in 200 games on Facebook now, Liu said. Twenty-two of the top 25 games use Facebook Credits.
Now, beyond using credit cards, users will be able to choose from 20 new payment options via PlaySpan’s Ultimate Pay service, allowing for more international purchases. Since credit cards aren’t used in every country, PlaySpan offers more payment options that are used in certain regions. That expands the reach of Facebook games — and the ability to make money from them through credits purchases — to a wider audience.
The PlaySpan payment options will roll out in the coming months, supplementing current payment systems such as credit cards, mobile phone payment services, and PayPal. Through Ultimate Pay, some of the new options include prepaid cards such as PaySafeCard, Wallie-card in Europe, MyCard and Gash cards in Taiwan, and other regional payment services.
Liu said the goal is to make Facebook Credits into an international virtual currency. The analogy is Europe’s euro, the currency whose introduction resulted in the broadening of trade beyond country borders. Roughly 70 percent of Facebook’s users are outside the U.S.
Currently, many games require you to register, log in and then pay for your currency. If you had to do that every time you played a game, you would be less likely to spend money, since virtual currency purchases are often spur-of-the moment decisions, much like cash purchases.
PlaySpan’s payment and other monetization services are used in more than 1,000 games.
Jessica Rovello (pictured, left), president of casual game publisher Arkadium, said that her company is using Facebook Credits in five games on Facebook today. Rovello said that her company doubled its revenue from those games after introducing Facebook Credits in them. That more than makes up for the 30 percent fee that Facebook takes on the transactions.
Game maker Digital Chocolate, meanwhile, is using Facebook Credits in its Millionaire City game. Thomas Chung (pictured, middle), director of partnerships at Digital Chocolate, said his company also saw a several-times increase in conversion, or the percentage of players who convert from free game play to paying for something in the game.
Liu said that Facebook will now add four or five times as many developers to the Facebook Credits program than it was doing before.