At the conference, there were a lot of people proposing payment solutions of offering payment solutions. There were a lot of potential routes for payment solutions, whether it's anything from PayPal to, you know, in Europe, often mobile, or pre-paid cards like Nexon uses for MapleStory and a number of other people use, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
First of all, it is worrisome to you that the payment solutions are various and disparate, or is it strengthening from your perspective, that there's not a simple obvious solution, that there's a lot of choice?
GD: We're an open platform, so the parties are able to implement whatever makes sense for the users. I think what you're seeing is a range of options that we think is good. One of the reasons why the space is monetizing so well is because these monetization systems exist, right?
That's really one of the big takeaways from the conference, how well social game companies are monetizing. They're doing very, very well here, thriving in a very new space. To be two years into an industry and to be doing this well is remarkable, particularly in this economic climate. So, we think that's a good thing.
There was also some discussion, and this is particularly why I didn't see there being any consensus. I was a little surprised, I can't remember exactly the context, but someone said, "Raise your hand if you're interested in this." And it was kind of, "Oh, not really." It was a payment solution offered directly via Facebook or from Facebook at a corporate/platform level. Do you have interest in that? Do you see a need?
GD: So, we get a lot of requests to provide a platform-based monetization model. We want to help developers succeed as best as we can and also help users have a great experience. We have a gift shop on Facebook.com that enables our users to buy gifts using a virtual currency called Facebook Credits. And that's done very, very well for us. We're thrilled with that business, and it's growing.
Birthday cakes and that kind of stuff. I see those all the time.
GD: People love to buy gifts and give them to their friends. It's a very fun, engaging activity. And so, having seen the success there and hearing the requests from developers that this would be of interest to them, we have begun testing the user Facebook Credits by offering them to developers so that users can use Facebook Credits in an application to buy things. We're very early on in the test there, and so far, the results look good. We have a handful of apps live today.
Malorie Lucich: Yeah, (fluff)Friends, PackRat.
GD: So, you can go up there and take a look at it. Essentially, the way it works is that when you're at the point of transaction, you're presented with the "Pay With Facebook" that you click, and then we handle the transaction.
We believe that this has a lot of potential to be beneficial for a user because the user experience can be much smoother. They're not redirected out of the party. They stay in the flow. Secondly, there's a Facebook-branded button, and since they already have a high level of trust with Facebook, they store a lot of information with us, they're more likely to go through the transaction. We believe there's a potential lift for users that they love this stuff.
For a developer, same thing. It's like, "happier user, more transactions." It's potentially very, very appealing to them. That's what we think. We're testing this out right now, and as soon as we have more information to share, we'll share that.
Have you made any decisions or made any public information on what the split in terms of Facebook and...
GD: We have not.
I'm not shocked. [laughs] But I have to ask.
Facebook in just a few years sort of came from nothing and became massive and a lot of the companies that have found a lot of success, particularly Playfish or Zynga or even ones that came from people who are established, they still are companies built up from very little and very quickly became larger.
So, typically, talking to the game industry, you're talking about working with really established companies who've been around for a long, long time.
Very often, when companies are trying to attract people to them, they'll do tie-in marketing or something like that, they'll work with established companies, well-known brands. A lot of what's successful about Facebook and the companies it works with is this startup mentality, however.
GD: We're completely open and neutral to that. We encourage everybody to use our tools to build great experiences. We have seen great experiences come from small developers and great experiences come from large developers. And they approach it differently, and we don't really distinguish between them.