Facebook offers app developers a choice: "my way" or "highway"

John Moe Jan 26, 2011

Facebook is now mandating that all app developers use Facebook’s own “credits” system for any purchasing done within an app
. So if you want to get a new cow on Farmville or something, you pay with credits that you buy from Facebook instead of conducting a purchase between you and the company making the app. Why? Because Facebook takes a 30% cut from sales of all credits. Even though a lot of developers already use this system, they’re pretty upset about this new rule. But there’s nothing they can do about it, they’re screwed, because Facebook owns social networking games.

Facebook head of commerce product marketing Deborah Liu just finished a panel on stage at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco. The moderator of the panel said he’d heard complaints from small developers that Facebook’s 30% cut will put them out of business, and asked her to respond. Her first sentence — “Every day, every developer gets to choose between our platform and other platforms” — was met with laughter, jeers, and hisses from the audience.

So why does it matter to you if you’re not an app developer? Because Facebook is reinventing money here and they’re not going to stop. The credits system could be transferred to shopping that you will do through Facebook where you don’t use money, you use credits and they take their cut. It’s like those tickets you get at Chuck E. Cheese.

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