Tuesday 25 January 2011

Mandatory Facebook Credits, What It Means For You

In our last news post we spoke about mandatory Facebook Credits in games and how they'll largely replace buying each game's proprietary cash.

Now I thought I'd dissect the article a little and give some specifics about how it seems it'll affect the average Frontierville player. Much of this is based on what we currently know and might change on final release.

The basics of the news boils down to this... we will no longer give real life cash to Zynga in Frontierville to buy Horseshoes, we buy credits from Facebook which can either be spent in game directly or used to then buy those golden Shoes we've spent so long coveting.

Whether the price for Horseshoes will stay the same (relatively) or whether we'll see an increase or, God forbid, an actual DEcrease in cost is debateable. At the moment Zynga already pay Facebook a "tax" on it's in-game currency which is believed to be around a mind boggling $30 million a month, going to show what big business it is. This is unlikely to change too much in amount but work the other way around, Facebook take their cut then pass the rest on to Zynga.

The other potential impact is that Horseshoes becomes one of two ways to pay for things, and soon we could see items in the market priced like this:

The simple fact is for most of us we won't see much of a difference in our gameplay. If you never bought Horseshoes in the past, you wont notice a thing that changes apart from maybe an extra pricing item in the market.

If you buy Horseshoes you'll simply end up paying someone else for them first, it'll add an extra step to the process, buy Credits then buy Horseshoes, but largely the general principle stays the same. Or it could transpire that you can simply buy Credits instead of Horseshoes and spend them instead.

(More after the jump)
However it works itself out there are obvious plusses for everyone, even though some people might find themselves loathe to give credit card details to the occasionally colander-like Facebook security.

The benefit for Facebook: This one is obvious, Facebook get to handle the money. They might even see an upturn in people buying Credits because of the positives for players (more on that below). They also get to push their Credits further into the public eye. We know Facebook is somewhat Borg-like in it's desire to assimilate with the World Wide Web, it often gives the impression of a teenage boy at his first drink-fuelled Frat Party, hands everywhere.

By boosting the profile of Credits they get us used to paying for things with them. How soon before they become a currency elsewhere on the web? Sign in to your Facebook account in Amazon and pay for a download with Facebook Credits... From there it's only a matter of time before they become an official currency and we all know what happens then... Yep, Emperor Palpatine Zuckerberg.

Hmm, too crazy?

The benefit for Zynga: For some reason unknown to man nor beast Zynga do have something of a negative reputation, even worse it seems than Facebook. There is the simple fact that some folks using logic that makes puppies cry would rather give their credit card to Facebook than Zynga, go figure. They could see an increase in premium purchases through folks now buying Credits or through the leak effect of them being universally used.

The other bonus is advertising. I think we're likely to see something akin to a "Credits Supermarket" on the site advertising what you can spend your credits on. This will  pull new people into seeing Zynga products (you can be sure they'll put the cute stuff up, penguin with antlers anyone?) and bring the games to a new audience. It'll be a promotional goldmine.

To be fair for what Zynga might get it's arguably a good thing for them.

The benefit for players: OK, the important one, what will you or I get from the change?

Well, if you never buy any premium stuff and only play a single game, not a lot. We might see some discounted prices but that's about it (even Humble Bob will likely still pop up to offer us a "sale" on Shoes, just using Credits to buy them).

However, if you like your premium goodies and you play more than one game, there are real positives. For starters nothing will change for the worse... which often with online gaming is a bonus in itself. You'll see minimum change in how anything operates and prices are likely to stay stable or even fall if more people find themselves buying and using Credits, supply and demand.

The main positive is if you play more than one game, there'd no longer be any reason to buy multiple "currencies". Right now if you buy 75 Horseshoes you have 75 Horseshoes to spend in Frontierville.

If this all kicks off you'll be able to buy 75 Credits and use them in however many games you play, 35 Credits for a Mystery Animal Crate in Frontierville, 20 Credits for a decoration in Farmville, 20 Credits to boost your character in Mafia Wars... Your money will end up being better spent because you wont need to buy an amount of Shoes/Reward Points/Cash that includes the amount you want to spend, you'll have free rein in ALL Credit enabled games, and that means ones not run by Zynga too, tres democratic (and capitalist... but we like that).

Consider it like Vegas where each casino has it's own chips. Instead of being stuck in the Bellagio you'll be able to use the same chips in there and Ceaser's Palace and the MGM Grand... or even just the diner on the corner. Universal money, just like a real shopping trip into town.

So, it seems for gamers the very least we can hope for is the positive of there being no negatives... Which in this day and age is nice in itself.

So far no news on when the Credits change will happen, but when we know, so will you.