Facebook is giving its virtual currency the heave-ho, after recognizing that game makers prefer to come up with their own appropriately themed currencies. Facebook Credits will be phased out starting in Q3, and payments will, instead, be priced in local currency, i.e. US dollars, British pound, Japanese yen, etc.
Facebook says its making this change to "simplify the purchase experience, give you more flexibility, and make it easier to reach a global audience of Facebook users who want a way to pay for your apps and games in their local currency." Basically, it's designed to keep the game makers happy, and it will -- hopefully -- be a seamless switch so people who actually play social games don't have to deal with an extra hassle. Keep those fingers firmly crossed.
Facebook is also offering a subscription system for social game makers. Kixeye, for instance, will be testing this out by offering a $10 monthly subscription which entitles you to rare items, among other things (see image above).
So, for those who actually spend their money to play social games, the switch will bring some changes to how you go about acquiring those rare polka-dotted tutu-wearing cows in FarmVille. Or energy. Or power-ups. Once the changes start to go into effect sometime this summer, here's what you can expect to happen:
-- All of your Facebook Credits will automatically be turned into dollars (or whatever your country's standard currency happens to be). Once that happens, you will be able to buy in-game currency, just using real-life dollars instead of Credits.
-- Any games that use Facebook Credits in their games will be required to come up with their own form of virtual currency by the end of the year. You know how FarmVille uses Farm Cash? Well, every game will have to have their own form of currency. Right now, most of the big games, i.e. Zynga games, already have their own form of faux currency, so many people (and their games) will not be affected.
-- Games will start to offer a subscription option, like Backyard Monsters, where you pay a monthly fee for access to rare items. If you could pay $5 a month to get all of the rare items in FarmVille, would you? Some games could, hypothetically, forego the free-to-play model entirely and move to a subscription instead.
-- If you have a Facebook Credits gift card, the kind you buy in a store, you will still be able to redeem it. The Credits will simply show up as dollars instead.
It's also worth noting that 10 Facebook credits = one US Dollar, so you can expect to see smaller numbers in your Facebook account once the switch occurs. And, don't expect to make any extra money (or lose money) on the Facebook Credits switcheroo, the payout will be determined by the exchange rate on the day the transaction was made.
Here is the official blog post on the Facebook Credits changeover, as well as an FAQ for game developers.