Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
is currently used in hundreds of different games. Facebook offers game devel-
opers various incentives to make use of their currency system, some liability
protection, and a number of tools to facilitate integration into the game econ-
omy. For these privileges, Facebook takes 30 percent of the transaction. This fee
is transparent to the users, such that if a player spends nine Facebook Credits in
your game, which they bought for $9, you get $6. Although many social game
developers decried Facebook's greed in taking such a significant cut of each
microtransaction, the introduction of a universal currency on the platform is
good for both users and developers on balance.
Gamers are provided a consistent, secure, trustworthy marketplace for pur-
chasing credits. They can work to resolve any disputes with a major brand,
rather than with individual vendors. The credits can be purchased and given as
gifts to friends and relatives, even if the purchaser isn't certain what game the
recipient likes. Because they can be used at point-of-purchase in any Facebook
game, the credits themselves also have more value than tokens that have
currency in only one game or one family of games.
Developers ended up getting easy-to-implement APIs (Application
Programming Interfaces), which save them a great deal of work in creating
their own systems for getting money from users. Developers and publishers are
freed from the expensive dispute resolution and customer service headaches
that go along with the transactions themselves and can benefit from a unified
currency that has far more legitimacy than did the previous host of different
currency types. Best of all, by selling Facebook Credits, Facebook has made
clear the rules of customer engagement on their platform, and developers no
longer have to fear that their game could simply be taken offline by the plat-
form for an unwitting violation or due to a change in platform policy.
Other social networks have followed Facebook's lead. For example, the
online gaming website hi5 offers a similar currency, which they call hi5
Coins. They augmented this system with a comprehensive suite of tools called
SocioPay, which uses player metrics to tailor microtransaction offers to particu-
lar players, in an effort to increase their average revenue per user (ARPU). For
example, a customer who seldom buys anything is more likely to be served up
general advertisements, and a user who regularly buys items in a certain price
range is more likely to be offered items targeted around that particular price
point. By offering a unified currency model and taking a piece of the action,
social networks become more likely to invest in creating tools like SocioPay that
in turn help developers make more profitable games.
The history of game monetization is far from complete. As of this writing,
a player can get great games ranging in price from completely free, to upwards
of $70, and there is no limit to the amount of money that can be spent on
“upgrades,” both in-game and as hardware, add-ons, accessories, and the like.
The market has fragmented such that there is currently no standard monetiza-
tion paradigm, and it's anyone's guess if a single standard will emerge (though
with such a vast array of products available, and such a broadly expanding and
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