Deb Liu of Facebook revealed more details about the company’s plans to require Credits for application developers to an extremely concerned audience at Inside Social Apps in San Francisco.
The tension in the air between Facebook and developers was almost palpable throughout the panel on “Monetization & Customer Acquisition on the Facebook Platform in 2011.” Based on conversations I had prior to the panel, it sounded as though offer walls were on the chopping block as Facebook had not clarified whether or not direct payments would be killed.
To ease the tension, Deb revealed two new incentives that the company would be offering:
- “Frictionless payments” – for small payments you can charge through the API and you don’t need a confirmation page. Arkadium has launched and we’ll launch over the coming weeks.
- “Buy with friends” – allows a developer to set up a program where they can share a purchase they made in the stream with their friends. More than 50 percent of users actually elected to share those purchases. “We’re innovating on social purchasing.”
However the tension was not gone as Deb clarified things for everybody: all payments will go through Facebook Credits and all transactions outside of Facebook’s payment system will be explicitly prohibited.
Many developers were frankly not happy with the uncertainty ahead, including many who believe that their entire businesses may be at risk of disappearing once Credits is fully rolled out within games. While we have yet to see the impact of the new Credits implementation there is no doubt that developers are on edge. The developers in the audience instantly became vocal, scoffing at Deb’s suggestion that there are alternative platforms to use.
To say the least, I have some sympathy for Deb who was responsible for responding to attacks from the audience. Despite the attacks, the writing has been on the wall for over a year now and has been expected by developers. The most critical move for Facebook at this point is to increase the communication about the impending change in an effort to ease developer concerns.
Additionally, Facebook should highlight those companies that have benefitted from integrating Credits as there were off-the-record audience members who were actually saying good things about the change. While many businesses will adapt, it’s pretty clear that developers have significant jitters, something which is understandable.