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Facebook Credits to become mandatory currency

Uniform funds can still be used to purchase game-specific credits

Facebook has confirmed that it will be completing the introduction of its Facebook Credits system, with the virtual cash becoming the single buy-in point to convert real world money into credits to spend on the social network.

Once the Facebook Credits are bought they will be able to be turned into title specific funds, such as City Cash for Zynga's CityVille, where they can then be used to buy in game items and bonuses.

The long term plan appears to be to encourage the official currency as the only one, enabling players to keep funds transferable between titles - a move which Facebook argues is good for users, but is likely to anger some developers hoping for a higher lock-in rate.

This encouragement would take place via the medium of prominent placement and better advertising for developers selling their goods in Facebook Credits rather than in a proprietary virtual currency. Facebook takes a 30 per cent cut of any purchase made using Facebook credits - which would make for a significant revenue stream if recent estimates about the $835 million value of the virtual cash exchanges on the network are realistic.

The beta period for the payment system ends today, with all developers expected to accept the credits by July 1, 2011. Most of the major players in the area, such as Zynga and Playfish, have already been discussing the deal with elements of the Facebook team and are believed to have reached terms.

The announcement about the service came a little earlier than expected after website TechCrunch obtained a leaked rumour about the roll-out yesterday. The details were later confirmed by Faceboook itself.

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