Only about 5% Facebook gamers pay to play freemium games. If Facebook could up this percentage, it and its third-party app developers could make a lot more money. That’s the idea behind a new promotion Facebook announced today where those who’ve never bought Facebook Credits virtual currency before will be offered $ 4 in free Credits when they buy $ 1. This gets users to set up their credit card and experience the rush of paying for an enhanced gaming experience.
Years ago when Facebook first launched its Credits virtual currency, it offered free Credits to some users. While this might have got them hooked on spending virtual currency, it didn’t addict them to paying for it.
Facebook needs credit card numbers badly. Apple has amassed an enormous collection after 10 years of iTunes Mp3 sales, which is now helping it easily sell apps and in-app purchases. If Facebook wants to grow its revenue to satisfy outside investors and be a competitive mobile gaming platform, it needs to get users ready to pay.
But like the street corner pusher says, “this ain’t no charity”. Facebook is only surfacing the promotion in sidebar ads, and TrialPay in-game promotions and offer walls to those who haven’t already bought Credits. User than have to set up a credit card or connect a PayPal account and pay $ 1 to get the extra $ 4, or 40 Credits. And next time, they’ll have to pay full price. Facebook wisely does not provide any way to reach the promotion directly in order to deter users from trying to cheat their way to free currency.
If you want to claim your own free Credits, your best bet is to play games by clients of Facebook’s official offers partner TrialPay, such as those by Playfish, Playdom, Kabam, Crowdstar, and iWin. These include The Sims Social, Gardens of Time, It Girl, and Kingdoms of Camelot. Then visit the offer wall or click through Deal Spot signs within games.
With any luck, Facebook will be able to up the percentage of users who monetize, and thereby discover new whales — gamers who spend orders of magnitude more than the average payer and drive the bottom lines of both indie developers and giants like Zynga. Call him Ishmael…Zuckerberg.